Matching Items (5)

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Connectionist Language Theory: The Virtues of Authentic Materials for Second Language Acquisition

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Methods of second language (L2) teaching should involve exposure to authentic forms to facilitate the development of proficiency and fluency. Exposure to authentic forms is important because prior research has

Methods of second language (L2) teaching should involve exposure to authentic forms to facilitate the development of proficiency and fluency. Exposure to authentic forms is important because prior research has shown that natural language discourse uses mostly prefabricated linguistic units (prefabs-formulaic language) that aid in developing linguistic competence and fluency; this occurs because learners' cognitive load is decreased when they are able to retrieve prefabricated wholes from their L2 repertoire as they produce L2 discourse (Erman & Warren, 2000). An effective method of acquiring prefabricated constructions as single units of meaning or structure is repetition of exposure to whole collocations (words that occur together in fixed phrases), since attention will shift from the individual constituents of the phrase to the unit as a whole as the meaning-bearing stored form (Bybee et al., 2006). Authentic materials (materials produced by native speakers for native speakers) contain a substantial number of prefabricated meaning units that are characteristic of native-speaker produced natural language. Compared to traditional L2 classroom approaches, authentic materials are more likely to engage learners due to the range of options available for learner interest; there is a psychological benefit for students who can be certain that their progress with authentic materials is tantamount to progress outside the classroom setting (Berardo, 2006; Ugalde, 2008). The efficacy of exposure to authentic forms can also be explained by virtue of the fact that it promotes incidental acquisition, which is the primary manner by which language is learned (Ellis & Wulff, 2015); it does so through facilitating implicit pattern recognition of exemplar structures. The research concludes with a discussion of why pedagogical approaches should seek to incorporate formulaic language for learners to achieve fluency.

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  • 2016-05

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Ambivalent blood: religion, AIDS, and American culture

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Ambivalent Blood examines the unsettled status of religious language in the semiotic construction of HIV/AIDS in America. Since public discourse about HIV/AIDS began in 1981, a variety of religious grammars

Ambivalent Blood examines the unsettled status of religious language in the semiotic construction of HIV/AIDS in America. Since public discourse about HIV/AIDS began in 1981, a variety of religious grammars have been formulated, often at cross-purposes, to assign meaning to the epidemic. The disease's complex interaction with religion has been used to prophesize looming apocalypses, both religious and national, demand greater moral solicitude among the citizenry, forge political advantage within America's partisan political landscape, mobilize empathy and compassion for those stricken by the disease, and construct existential meaning for those who have already been consigned to physical and social death. Several studies fruitfully have explored specific registers of religious discourse and the AIDS epidemic, particularly in regard to processes of social stigmatization and combating its very effects. However, assumptions about the secular aims of scientific inquiry as well as the presumably secular trajectory of American national culture have dampened a more robust consideration of religion within the history of HIV/AIDS. In most synoptic histories of AIDS, religion is constructed as either a wincing footnote to the Religious Right or as an occasional and bland example of salubrious Christian charity posed against the backdrop of disease and death. Ambivalent Blood seeks to extend such analysis beyond a digestible footnote by disinterring the often polysemous and ambivalent interaction of HIV/AIDS and religious discourses within American culture. Though not a historiographic work, the current project illuminates the complicated ways in which religious and HIV/AIDS discourses coalesced around the very definition of America itself. Like the Cold War that preceded and the Global War on Terror that followed, the AIDS crisis precipitated significant and contested recourse to the religious imaginary in the effort to forge conceptions of Americanness and citizen belonging.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Post-oppositional queer politics and the non-confrontational negotiation of queer desires in contemporary China

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The meaning of sexuality is not only specific to particular time periods in history; it is also culturally specific. Informed by transnationalism, queer of color critique, postcolonial feminism, and public

The meaning of sexuality is not only specific to particular time periods in history; it is also culturally specific. Informed by transnationalism, queer of color critique, postcolonial feminism, and public sphere theory, my dissertation investigates the complex dynamic between what I call "Chinese queer subjects" and their bio-genetic families in a time of queer globalization. By centering the life experiences of Chinese queer subjects through interviewing and rhetorical analysis, this project intervenes in the teleological discourse of "coming out" that is circulated both in transnational LGBT movements and within academia. Through a materialist analysis of the "coming out" discourse in mainland China, I reveal why and how the discourse of "coming out" is prioritized in Chinese LGBT movements in order to foster a domestic queer market in mainland China. Of most significance to this project are the two non-confrontational strategies that some Chinese queer subjects employ to navigate the tension between family and sexuality: first, the reticent "coming with" strategy that engages the home space with queer desires, transforming the heteronormative family institution from within, toward a more livable queer life; second, the xinghun strategy, a marriage arrangement that many Chinese gay men and lesbian women partake in as a means of being gay or lesbian without exiting the family kinship system. The practices of reticent "coming with" and xinghun challenge the binary between family and sexuality, suggesting that queerness can emerge and thrive without exiting the (heterosexual) family; they give us some concrete examples of what AnaLouise Keating calls "post-oppositional politics" among some Chinese queer subjects.

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  • 2016

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Meskhetian Turks: exploring identity through connections of culture

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This project explores the cultural identity of a refugee group named Meskhetian Turks, an ethnic group forced to relocate multiple times in their long history. Driven from their original homeland

This project explores the cultural identity of a refugee group named Meskhetian Turks, an ethnic group forced to relocate multiple times in their long history. Driven from their original homeland and scattered around Central Asia and Eastern Europe for decades, approximately 15,000 Meskhetian Turks have been granted refugee status by the American government in recent years. The focus of this study is a group of Meskhetian Turkish refugees in the Phoenix metropolitan area. This is a narrative study conducted through twelve open-ended in-depth interviews and researcher's observations within the community. The interview questions revolved around three aspects of Meskhetian cultural identity, which were represented in each research question. These aspects were: how Meskhetian Turks define their own culture; how they define their connection to Turkey and Turks; and how they define Americans, American culture and their place within the American society. The first research question resulted in three themes: history, preservation of culture, and sense of community. The second research question revealed two themes: Meskhetian Turk's ties to Turkey, and the group's relationship with and perception of Turks in the area. The final research question provided two themes: the group's adaptation to United States, and interviewees' observations regarding the American culture. Exploring these themes, and examining the connection between these aspects provided a complex and intertwined web of connections, which explain Meskhetian Turkish cultural identity. Meskhetian Turks' cultural self-definition, relation with the Turkish community, and perceptions of American culture are all inter-connected, which supports and furthers a dialectic approach to cultural studies. The study also contributes to refugee adaptation literature by examining cultural identity influences on the group's adaptation in the United States and offering insight and suggestions for improving the adaptation process.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Conveying controversial science: Sam Harris's "The Moral Landscape" and popular science communication

Description

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books,

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are understudied in the academic literature. For this doctoral dissertation, I utilize Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape, a general audience science book on the particularly thorny topic of neuroscientific approaches to morality, as a case-study to explore the possibility of using general audience science books as models for science communication more broadly. I conduct a literary analysis of the text that delimits the scope of its project, its intended audience, and the domains of science to be communicated. I also identify seven literary aspects of the text: three positive aspects that facilitate clarity and four negative aspects that interfere with lay public engagement. I conclude that The Moral Landscape relies on an assumed knowledge base and intuitions of its audience that cannot reasonably be expected of lay audiences; therefore, it cannot properly be construed as popular science communication. It nevertheless contains normative lessons for the broader science project, both in literary aspects to be salvaged and literary aspects and concepts to consciously be avoided and combated. I note that The Moral Landscape's failings can also be taken as an indication that typical descriptions of science communication offer under-detailed taxonomies of both audiences for science communication and the varieties of science communication aimed at those audiences. Future directions of study include rethinking appropriate target audiences for science literacy projects and developing a more discriminating taxonomy of both science communication and lay publics.

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Date Created
  • 2013