Lecture by Alastair Pennycook, February 23, 2001

Critical Applied Linguistics as Problematizing Practice

by Alastair Pennycook, Professor of Language in Education, Faculty of EducationUniversity of Technology, Sydney, Australia

This seminar will discuss significant themes in critical applied linguistics, providing an overview of this emergent approach to issues in language policy and planning, translation and interpreting, language education, discourse analysis, literacy, language in the workplace.  In particular it will focus on the need not only to develop a critical/political understanding of applied linguistic domains, but also to question the concepts and terminology of applied linguistics.  This point raises several related concerns:  Critical applied linguistics is more than just the conjunction of a political/critical approach with applied linguistics; rather, it raises a host of different questions to be addressed (identity, sexuality, power, performativity, etc).  The notion of critical is one that is greatly struggled over, but while Critical applied linguistics needs to avoid a normative politics, it nevertheless needs to promote a particular political vision of what is meant by being ‘critical’.  This brings us to a central concern:  If we abandon, or at least question, the political and epistemological assurity of an earlier era of critical work – epitomized by notions such as linguistic imperialism, ideology critique, critical discourse analysis, critical pedagogy or work on language and gender – on what ground and with what concepts do we then proceed with our critical work?

Friday, February 23, 2001