Call for Papers: University Discourses

University discourses: forms, practices, transformations
International Symposium organised by the Universities of Brussels (ULB), Liège (ULG) and Louvain (UCL)
Brussels, 24-26 April 2008

Deadline for submitting: OCTOBER 15, 2007
– abstract of 500 words (bibliography included)
– which states author’s name, university and E-mail address,
– and the topic concerned : cf. below : 1 (modalities), 2 (forms) or 3 (evolution)
– sent as .doc/.pdf attachment to

The University institution is debating with increasing frequency the characteristics, methods and aims of the discourses it is shaping. It is in effect experiencing a profound change that will force it to ask again as much about its missions (scientific, pedagogic, social, economic, political) as about the strategies it is implementing to accomplish them. Many feel that it is high time that university analysis of discourse also be used to analyse university discourses.

The audience of university students has changed: democratisation and vast increase of higher education studies has led to tensions, ruptures and, in the best of cases, adaptations that not only relate to the subjects and programmes, but also to the functions and functioning of the discourses. In the framework of liberalisation, even of commercialisation of studies and sciences, the University should take a stand to distinguish itself or draw inspiration from the models suggested by the public and private sectors in education, research and economic development; discourses of the university, in the university, and on the university bear witness to these influences and competitions.

Moreover, internationalisation – in the sense of competitiveness and collaboration – will from now on be one of the main vehicles in the evolution of the university: the proliferation of contacts, exchanges, projects, cross-border planning in education as well as in research have led the university community to debate linguistic and discursive practices to discover their distinctive features or, on the contrary, to attempt to reduce them in order to better participate in this intellectual globalisation. Furthermore, the strictly educational, scientific, technological, and epistemological evolutions and revolutions that have had a tendency to speed up over the last few decades in all fields are not without consequence on discourses both as disseminators and producers of knowledge.

It is under these circumstances that the intention of the colloquium is to provide an overview of the university discourses defined previously as ‘the discourses held in the context of a university institution, or more precisely by its teachers, its researchers and its students in performing their functions’.

1. University discourses, contextual modalities, pragmatic dimensions, intellectual technology
It should first be asked if the university discourse(s) indeed exist(s), in relation in particular to scientific, pedagogic, technical and academic discourses, and which could be the specificities. The participants will question the contextual, declarative, pragmatic and material conditions of this or these discourses: status and roles of the people involved, method and subjectivity, scenography, topoi and ethos connected to the university/place of work paralinguistic vehicles, objects and technical or symbolic support (its intellectual technology), aims displayed, researched and achieved, ideological issues…In this way one can better define the relationships that maintain logic described in this way of the university discourse with those that extol the institution, pedagogy and cognition.

2. Forms of University discourses: critical inventory
The contributions that turn on this aspect of the issue will aim at describing, metacritically, the variety of university discourses (types and sub-types), and to propose criteria likely to give an account of all their characteristics (including means of acquisition and dissemination of these discourses: on paper or virtually, orally or in writing, etc.). These analyses will fall within linguistic, discursive (quantitative and qualitative), sequential (definitions, description, explanation, etc.), textual, argumentative, interdiscursive, interactional, and so forth. It will also be a question of norms, implicit and explicit, that underlie this diversity or that aim at containing, whether one is delighted with it or one regrets it.

3. Evolution of University discourses in the new international context

Based on accounts from different disciplinary specialists, to close we will look at how the discourses are evolving – whether over just one career – the university discourses, their conditions, their characteristics, whether in the context of teaching, research or even informal exchanges. Particular attention will be paid to constraints imposed on scientific publication. Finally, we will examine linguistic, scientific, epistemological, ideological, linguistic and human issues of standardisation of scientific discourses serving academic globalisation.

Jean-Marc DEFAYS (Liège)
Marie-Christine POLLET (Bruxelles)
Laurence ROSIER (Buxelles)
Francine THYRION (Louvain)

Liesbeth DEGAND (Louvain)
Kjersti FLØTTUM (Bergen)
Dominique MAINGUENEAU (Paris XII)
Anna MAURANEN (Helsinki)
Marie-Anne PAVEAU (Paris XIII)

French and English

About Jennie Barnsley

I am the Research Development Officer in the CLTR (Centre for Learning & Teaching Research) where I have worked part-time since January 2005. In this role I develop activities and resources to encourage and support colleagues across the institution to research their pedagogic theory and practice.
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