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Theme, Subject and Given

26 October 2010

LinC will be holding a two-part workshop and discussion on:

Theme, topic, Subject and Given

In these two sessions we will discuss how the grammatical features of Theme, Subject and Given contribute to the topic of a text – a non-grammatical category.

In the first session (8th November) we will go over textual mark-up of Theme and Subject and discuss different aspects of thematicity and the notion of participant tracking. Those taking part will then be given a text, already marked up for Given/New, and asked to mark up Theme and Subject and to schematise participant tracking in preparation for the second session (22nd November).

The following readings are also recommended as preparation for the second session:

  • Berry, M. 1996. What is Theme? – A(nother) personal view. In Berry, M., Butler, C.S., Fawcett, R.P., and Huang, G.W. (eds.) Meaning and Form: Systemic Functional Interpretations. Meaning and Choice in Language: Studies for Michael Halliday. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
  • Martin, J.R. (1992) English Text: System and Structure. Philadelphia and Amsterdam: John Benjamins – Chapter 3; pp.93-157
  • Thompson, G. 2007. Unfolding theme: the development of clausal and textual perspectives on Theme. In Hasan, R., C. Matthiessen and J. Webster Continuing Discourse on Language: A Functional Perspective (Volume 2). London and Oakville: Equinox.

The second session will be entirely dedicated to a discussion of how the various grammatical and semantic devices analysed co-contribute to what we commonly refer to as the ‘topic’ of a text.

Both sessions (Nov. 8th and 22nd, 2010) will start at 5pm in Room 5.26 of the Humanities Building, Colum Road.