Dialogic Discourse Analysis: A methodology for dealing with the classroom as a text

Atle Skaftun


Bakhtin is a source of theoretical inspiration for educational research. This article will be an attempt to activate also Bakhtin’s analytical practice and his methodology. I will explore and elaborate the typology of discursive relations which are suggested in Bakhtin’s book on Problems of Dostoevsky’ Poetics (Bakhtin ,1984), and the potential application of it in the study of discourse in the classroom. In order to do so properly it will be necessary to activate Bakhtin’s understanding of the utterance as a meaningful unity, and thus also the problem of authorship and the relationship between author and hero.

Bakhtin’s analytical practice can be considered a consistent methodology for the study of literature in schools as well as in the scholarly study of literature (cf. Skaftun, 2009; 2010), and I have called it dialogic discourse analysis (DDA). The first main part of the article elaborates key features of DDA in dialogue with Bakhtin’s work. In the other main part, DDA is applied to educational settings in order to enter the educational dialogue on how to make sense of authorship and the adhering conception of the classroom as a text. My ambition here is primarily to elaborate DDA as a powerful and dynamic toolkit also for educational research. In doing so I also hope to contribute to the ongoing work of transferring Bakhtin’s dialogism as a whole from the study of literature to the study of education. Examples will in part be drawn from literature, but for the most part from educational settings.


Dialogic discourse analysis; classroom discourse; dialogic education; authorship; the teacher as an author; The classroom as a text

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/dpj.2019.277


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