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Book review: CAROLINE COFFIN, Historical Discourse: The Language of Time, Cause and Evaluation. London: Continuum, 2006. 224 pp

Book reviewCAROLINE COFFIN, Historical Discourse: The Language of Time, Cause and Evaluation. London: Continuum, 2006. 224 pp SAGE Publications, Inc.2008DOI: 10.1177/09579265080190030603 Ken Tann Department of Linguistics, University of Sydney, Australia Historical Discourse was primarily written as a reference for curriculum devel- opment. With the current controversies over state interference with the history syllabus (see, for example, Clendinnen, 2006) however, it is also a timely and illuminating set of analytical tools for the critical examination of the various competing accounts of history. The book is a consolidation of Caroline Coffin's ethnographic research within the classroom context since the 1990s, and it has a strong empirical basis, established from an extensive corpus of over 1000 history texts in various forms written by teachers, literacy consultants and students. As such, her detailed qualitative explanation is supported by quantitative results that she helpfully provides in the Appendix. Reflecting on her findings, she begins by arguing that learning to write about history is not a straightforward process, but one that requires students to acquire the linguistic resources to articulate chronology, causality and assessment, which constitute the main themes explored in the book. She finds that the simple dichotomies between narrative and argumentative writing http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Discourse & Society SAGE

Book review: CAROLINE COFFIN, Historical Discourse: The Language of Time, Cause and Evaluation. London: Continuum, 2006. 224 pp

Abstract

Book reviewCAROLINE COFFIN, Historical Discourse: The Language of Time, Cause and Evaluation. London: Continuum, 2006. 224 pp SAGE Publications, Inc.2008DOI: 10.1177/09579265080190030603 Ken Tann Department of Linguistics, University of Sydney, Australia Historical Discourse was primarily written as a reference for curriculum devel- opment. With the current controversies over state interference with the history syllabus (see, for example, Clendinnen, 2006) however, it is also a timely and illuminating set of analytical tools for the critical examination of the various competing accounts of history. The book is a consolidation of Caroline Coffin's ethnographic research within the classroom context since the 1990s, and it has a strong empirical basis, established from an extensive corpus of over 1000 history texts in various forms written by teachers, literacy consultants and students. As such, her detailed qualitative explanation is supported by quantitative results that she helpfully provides in the Appendix. Reflecting on her findings, she begins by arguing that learning to write about history is not a straightforward process, but one that requires students to acquire the linguistic resources to articulate chronology, causality and assessment, which constitute the main themes explored in the book. She finds that the simple dichotomies between narrative and argumentative writing
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