Doctoral Degrees (English)

Permanent URI for this collection


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 10
  • ItemOpen Access
    Zimbabwe urban grooves music and the interconnections between youth identities and celebrity culture
    (University of the Free State, 2018-08) Tivenga, Doreen Rumbidzai; Manase, Irikidzayi; Strauss, Helene
    Zimbabwe urban grooves music is an urban contemporary hybrid genre of music that fuses local music, beats and cultural practices with global popular youth music and cultural practices, is sung predominantly in vernacular languages, and is popular with the urban youth. This thesis examines the interconnections between youth identities and celebrity culture through the lenses of urban grooves music. The study focuses on how Zimbabwean youth react to fundamental societal shifts and the convergence between their everyday local experiences and global cultural experiences through music. I show how these local and global changes have led to a significant rise in popularity and influence of urban grooves music as youth seek to express their identities and cultures in light of these changes and intercultural experiences. My study addresses these significant youth experiences by engaging in a textual analysis of urban grooves music and video texts. Textual analysis is complemented by interviews with urban youth, urban grooves musicians, music promoters and producers, while some of the research findings are based on observations I made during some musical shows I attended as part of the audience or consumers of urban grooves. Field work for the research was delimited to Harare and Chitungwiza where the genre has its roots and has developed rapidly to influence the youth. In addition, the study is mainly informed by theories of globalisation, popular culture and celebrity culture, which are complemented by other relevant concepts such as the concept of the everyday, power, recognition and feminist theories. These theories are key in comprehending the significance of the urban grooves genre and its linkages with trajectories of youth identities that are mapped in ambivalent and intricate ways involving complex gender dynamics, spatial attachments, group affiliations, celebrity culture and the quest for visibility and power. I argue that interactions between complex everyday local and global cultural and societal changes have contributed to Zimbabwean youth’s everyday experiences, intercultural encounters and identities that resonate and are influenced by celebrity culture and constituted in urban grooves.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Paul Slabolepszy's evocation of empathy in a South African setting: a realisation of the potential of comic technique
    (University of the Free State, 1999-01) Van Deventer née Greyling, Maria Aletta; Muller, F. R.
    English: A study of comedy reveals its variety and scope, its subjective nature, how we are able to see in it a reflection of life and customs, and how comedy is able to evoke empathy for characters through our laughter of recognition. South Africa's stormy political background is reflected in Slabolepszy's dramas, from the turbulent apartheid years of the 1980s onwards, (for example, in plays such as Saturday Night at the Palace, Packing for Perth I, Sidewalking, R.S.A, Boo to the Moon, Packing for Perth II and Smallholding) through the early 1990s with their uncertainties and turnover of leadership, until full democratization in 1994, and the eventual attempts at forgiveness and reconciliation until the present. Although Slabolepszy's plays are not exclusively political, like some of Fugard's, do not rally people to action as Mda's and the township plays do, or are not as corrosively satiric as most of Pieter-Dirk Uys's work, he provides insight into the South African situation and, through a variety of comic techniques, is able to evoke empathetic understanding for his characters in a South African setting. The sensitive humour and wit in Braait Laaities (1991) evoke empathy for a conservative, white woman, and a streetwise, black male, who are able to communicate on mutual ground, despite a stormy political South African background and personal sorrow. Mooi Street Moves (1992) is a particularly poignant play in which Slabolepszy through a variety of comic devices evokes empathy for a black and a white man who succeed in reconciling their differences, despite their conflicting politics and cultural heritage. His plays also reflect comedy's tragic alter ego, especially in the personal angst of characters in plays such as The Return of Elvis du Pisanie (1992) and Pale Natives (1994). In Fordsburg's Finest (1998), a black woman who has been in exile and returns to a democratic South Africa to redefine her roots after an interim period of almost forty years, becomes the focus of his concern. The play transcends the limitations of politics, race, sex and skin colour. Slabolepszy evokes empathy for present-day South Africans through various comic techniques, and demonstrates with perceptive insight that forgiveness between people is indeed possible. Slabolepszy experiments with various comic devices and techniques, plus varying degrees of comedy, ranging from bitter satire in his earlier plays, for example, Saturday Night at the Palace (1982), to an overall more light-hearted, even farcical approach in his other plays; for example, Under the Oaks (1984), Miles from Machadodorp (1992), Victoria Almost Falls (1994), Tickle to Fine Leg (1995) and Heel Against the Head (1995). Through a comic approach which alternates between dark and light-hearted humour, and low comedy, Slabolepszy is able to touch on contentious issues, for example, white male bonding in Pale Natives (1994). Absurdist elements are introduced in Travelling Shots and Smallholding, which demonstrate his versatility and ability to implement various comic techniques with success. Like his contemporaries, he shows his use of English to function as a "linguafranca ", but uses a distinctly South African "patois", mixed with English, Afrikaans and ZululXhosa expressions and South African slang, as a comic device to evoke both laughter and empathy, and to make his plays more authentic. Slabolepszy's appeal is both national and international, and he is one of South Africa's most popular playwrights. He extends the boundaries of his work by providing peculiar insight into the South African situation, as well as the human psyche. His plays are accessible to people from all walks of life, notwithstanding race, creed or colour, and through humour, he is able to evoke empathy for all individuals within a South African socio-political context. It is clear that Slabolepszy in his plays has been able to realise comedy's potential to evoke empathy for individuals in a South African setting through a variety of comic techniques.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The impact of a discourse-based teacher-counselling model in training language teachers for outcomes-based education
    (University of the Free State, 2001-11) De Villiers, Eleftheria; Greyling, W. J.
    As outcomes-based education (OBE) is an approach to learning that fosters usable knowledge and skills in learners, with attitudes and values that are aligned with the ideals of the South African Constitution, it was a cause for concern when evidence presented by the Curriculum 2005 Review Committee suggested that the new approach to education was not being implemented successfully. The Committee stated that a lack of appropriate teacher-training and in-service support was one of the primary causes. It was thus decided to attempt to address this issue in a South African context in this research study. The study recruited teacher-trainees using semi-random sampling methods and subjected a final sample of eleven teacher-trainees to a two-year study in which they received counselling on the most effective ways of adapting their teaching styles to an OBE mode. Baseline data was gathered from pre-intervention recordings of their teaching styles in real classroom situations, after which these recordings were viewed and assessed by the trainees themselves, and by peer and counsellor assessment, using standardised assessment forms. Areas in which teaching styles might undergo improvement were identified by the clients themselves, while the counsellor shared theoretical perspectives with the trainees concerning the value of developing their own and the learners' autonomy, establishing low-anxiety classrooms in which learners could feel free to express themselves and could practise uninterrupted speech in a second language, the value of designing their own materials, the strengths of including group work in lessons and ways of enhancing the effectiveness of group work. The relationship between the counsellor and her trainees was of a consistently supportive and empathic nature. Collaboration between the trainees was emphasised, as they were expected to support one another in becoming more effective facilitators. Any judgment on possible improvements had to be phrased in considerate and empathic terms, yet retaining objectivity. It was felt that trainees would be able to replicate the modes they had been taught in their own classrooms, so it was essential that their own development was modelled on critical crossfield and specific outcomes derived from OBE terminology. After much reflection, asd a number of interventions that followed the guidelines posited by Bowers (1987) in his teacher-counselling model within the research framework of an action research spiral (Middiewood, Coleman and Lumby 1999), final video recording were made of trainee-teachers in order to determine if they had indeed succeeded in effecting positive changes to their teaching styles. After each of these recordings had been analysed by the counsellor and the trainees themselves, it was found that major improvements had indeed been effected in the majority of cases. Learners in trainee lessons had been encouraged to speak for much greater periods of time, showing greater initiative. Group work was included in their improved lessons. After discourse had been studied and categorised according to Van Lier's (1996) discourse analysis model, it was found that the quality of classroom Initiation-Response-Feedback had developed from lower-order to higher-order IRF along the Van Lier IRF sub-continuum (1996), indicating that teachers were dominating the structure of classroom discourse to a far lesser extent in their second lessons, opening the classroom interactions to a conversational mode in which the course of the lessons could be determined by learners and thus be more unpredictable. This learner-centeredness was a positive outcome in the study and was further proof that teachers were beginning to apply themselves in an OBE mode. After a year of reflection trainees provided data in a focus interview which showed evidence that they were much more comfortable with OBE and were eager to use the outcomes-orientation in their lessons, as they now understood it as a more effective way to educate learners.
  • ItemOpen Access
    South African business-news interview talk : its typicality and implications for materials design in the domain of ESP
    (University of the Free State, 2000-11) Brokensha, Susan Iris; Ullyatt, R. C.; Greyling, W. J.
    Drew and Heritage (1992) have focused attention on the influential role Conversation Analysis (CA) has played in the study of interaction in institutional settings. One such setting is the news interview, and a number of researchers (e.g. Clayman, 1991; Heritage and Greatbatch, 1991; Greatbatch, 1992) have noted that interviewers (IRs) regularly adhere to the institutionalised language practices that govern the management of topical agendas within the news interview turn-taking system. In this research study, the researcher postulates that the findings of CA studies of news interview talk may be used by language practitioners in the domain of ESP (English for Specific Purposes) to generate meta-communicative and communicative teaching materials for prospective South African news IRs in the field of business. In order to achieve this applied linguistic aim, the role of the IR in managing news interview talk is described in terms of Clayman's (1991) study of news interview openings as well as within the framework of Heritage and Greatbatch's (1991) analysis of news interview talk. Aspects of Clayman's (1992) study of the strategies IRs employ to maintain a neutralistic stance are also included in the description of the IR's role. The researcher posits that, if the generality of the discourse findings of these CA analysts are verified in an analysis of South African news interview talk, the analysis may be regarded as a target-centred needs analysis (Cf. Jordan, 1997: 25). That is, the analysis specifies the areas of knowledge and skills prospective news IRs need to function effectively in the news interview situation. To establish generality, the principles of qualitative research are adhered to in this study. That is, in a preliminary analysis, a corpus of South African business-news interview talk is scrutinised to determine whether the discourse patterns in it replicate those identified by the CA analysts. An exhaustive analysis of the full corpus of lingual data is then made, and finally, the researcher collects and recycles through the data in order to validate the findings (Seliger and Shohamy, 1989: 121-124). This CA study shows that the patterns of discourse reflected in South African business-news interviews replicate those identified by Clayman (1991; 1992) and Heritage and Greatbatch (1991). Based on the analysis, ESP activities that conform to Van Lier's (1996) Awareness, Authenticity and Autonomy curriculum model are designed for prospective news IRs. Next, one of the activities is implemented in the language classroom and a criticalreflective analysis is made of the activity in order to determine whether it simulates South African news interview discourse. The analysis shows that cycles of critical reflection cannot be omitted by language practitioners if they wish to cross-validate the authenticity and credibility of their teaching materials. Finally, future areas of research are considered. An important justification for this research study is that a review of the literature has revealed that most studies of professional contexts are unrelated to the teaching of ESP (Cf. Gunnarsson, Linell and Nordberg, 1997). Moreover, as this study aims to demonstrate, the discourse features characteristic of the activities devised in the materials design phase reflect most of the specific outcomes of OBE (outcomes-based education).
  • ItemOpen Access
    The development and implementation of an English language and literature programme for low-proficiency tertiary learners
    (University of the Free State, 2001-11) Van Wyk, Arlys Leslie; Greyling, W. J.; Hay, H. R.
    The University of the Free State, like most other tertiary institutions in South Africa, is faced with the challenge of establishing a framework within the university for redressing inequalities in education: inequalities such as unequal access and opportunities for both students and staff along racial, gender and class lines. This research attempts to find ways of making tertiary learning accessible to a group of underprepared students who would, traditionally, have been excluded from tertiary learning in the previous apartheid dispensation. The study focuses on the language needs of learners who, for multiple reasons, have low English language proficiency. The problem is compounded for these students in that English is their chosen language of instruction. Thus, without English language proficiency, tertiary learning is inaccessible or, at best, extremely difficult for these students. The main aim of this study is to develop and implement a programme of language learning which will meet the requirements of the Department of English and, simultaneously, improve the English academic literacy skills of this group of SL learners so as to provide them with much-needed support to achieve academic success. The methodology selected to achieve the aim, is emancipatory action Research with its reflective cycles of planning, acting, observing and reflecting. The action research cycles involve planning to improve the process; acting to implement that plan; observing the effects of the plan and finally, reflecting on the effects which, in turn, become the framework for the next cycle of action research. Two processes are central to action research, viz. data gathering and an action component. Data-gathering occurred over a period of our years and various techniques were used, viz. interviews, classroom observations, samples of students' written work, a journal of facilitator meetings, various monitoring techniques, questionnaires to learners and facilitators, test and examination results. The study describes three action research cycles over a period of four years. Initially, it was intended that the course should include a literature component which, as a result of this research, was abandoned in the second cycle of the action research. The reasons for this decision are documented in the study. The findings of the research have led to the development of an academic literacy course with the following broad goals, viz. to develop the ability to read academic texts with good comprehension and critical attention; to develop thinking and study skills and to develop the ability to express information and ideas clearly, relevantly and logically in expository writing. Several useful guidelines, for the development of an English language course for Iow-proficiency tertiary learners, have emerged from the study. These guidelines encompass the following key issues, viz. prior learning, learner proficiency, learner motivation and interest, comprehensible input, learning context, learning strategies, extensive and intensive reading, teaching approach, language and literature teaching, materials design and research methodology. This study has led to the development and implementation of an academic literacy course founded on the following salient guidelines: • A teaching approach based on a combination of communicative language learning and input processing instruction; • Proficiency should be developed within the context in which students find themselves, viz. the academic context. Thus, academic literacy skills are systematically developed; • Comprehensible input is axiomatic to language learning at tertiary level, thus, reading and writing fluency should be developed through a programme which provides plenty of meaning-bearing input; Classroom instruction should be based on a combination of content-based instruction and task-based language teaching; • Reading and writing skills should be taught through a process of systematic strategy training; and • Contextual support, which facilitates SLA, should be provided in the form of strategy training, continuous evaluation, thorough feedback and activities that replicate real-world tasks.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Critical linguistics and postmodernism: assessment with reference to selected English texts
    (University of the Free State, 2006-05) Chaka, Chaka Petrus; Greyling, W. J.; Visagie, J.
    This research study sets out to investigate the relationship between critical linguistics and postmodernism and to mount a critical assessment of these two areas. Firstly, it provides an overview of these two areas and offers their comprehensive and detailed discussion. It does so by discussing the works of Fowler et al. (1979), Kress (1989, 1990) and Fairclough (1989, 1992) in the case of critical linguistics and those of Lyotard (1984, 1988), Foucault (1972, 1980) and Derrida (1978, 1982) in the case of postmodernism. Secondly, it presents a critical analysis which foregrounds some of the concerns, shortcomings and weaknesses inherent in these two areas as raised, for example, by Grimshaw (1980) and Widdowson (1998, 2000) regarding critical linguistics, and as raised, on the one hand, by Habermas (1987) and, to a lesser extent, by McCarthy (1993), and on the other hand, by Gross and Levitt (1994) concerning postmodernism. In addition, it provides an appraisal of Habermas’s and Gross and Levitt’s views on postmodernism. Thirdly, the study investigates the extent to which chaos theory can bridge the boundaries between critical linguistics and mainstream linguistics, between postmodernism and modernism, and between critical linguistics and postmodernism. Most significantly, it establishes the similarities and differences characterising critical linguistics and postmodernism. Moreover, it examines – through conducting a textual micro-analysis - the way in which discourse features employed in two texts (one on critical linguistics and the other on postmodernism) do (or do not) reflect instances of discourse and ideological strategies. Concomitantly, the questions this study sets out to answer are as follows: • What does the overview of both critical linguistics and postmodernism reveal? • What scholarly views and observations does a comprehensive and detailed discussion of the proponents of these two areas reveal? • What concerns, shortcomings and weaknesses are inherent in these two areas? • In what way is critical linguistics different from mainstream linguistics and how can the two areas be brought closer to each other? • In what way is postmodernism different from modernism and how can the two areas be brought closer to each other? • What are the similarities and differences between critical linguistics and postmodernism? and • What does the micro-analysis of the discourse features of the two sample extracts selected from both LP and The PC reveal about the discourse and ideological strategies used in these two texts? Two texts, Fairclough’s (1989) Language and Power (LP) – for critical linguistics- and Lyotard’s (1984) The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (The PC) – for postmodernism - serve as the two main sources of data in this study. In this regard, the study mounts both a macro-analysis and a micro-analysis of these two texts. Thus, employing a discourse and ideological analysis and chaos theory methodological framework and a textual content analysis and chaos theory model in Chapter Five, the macro-analysis has two sections. The first section focuses on the following aspects of both LP and The PC: their explicit and implicit goals; their respective areas of focus; their underlying theoretical assumptions; the approaches, methods and models of analysis they use; the types of data extracts used in LP and the cited material used in The PC; and the adequacy, trustworthiness and credibility of both the data extracts and the cited material. The second section examines the usage of the concepts (mainstream) linguistics, critical linguistics, language, ideology, power, discourse, text, intertextuality, subject positions (identities), utterances, and postmodernism in the case of LP. It also explores the usage of the concepts modernity/modernism, postmodernity/postmodernism, grand narratives/meta-narratives, language games, utterances, pragmatics, performativity, paralogy/paralogism, incommensurability, knowledge, and legitimation/legitimacy in the case of The PC. The software programme, WordWeb 3. 03, is used as a point of reference to benchmark some of the textual definitions, ideas and views attributed to the conceptual variables cited above. All of the above content variables are accompanied by their respective data exemplars extracted from the two texts. These data exemplars are presented in Appendix A. Using the same framework as cited above, the micro-analysis focuses on two extracts (cf. Appendices B and D) - taken from LP and The PC respectively – and employs a multidisciplinary model of ideological discourse analysis (MIDA) (cf. Figure 4. 2) for analysing these extracts in Chapter Six. In both extracts, it examines the following discourse features: narrative; repetition; rhetoric; pronominalisation (pronouns); modality (modals); topoi; stereotypes; metaphors; implication; presupposition; and conversational maxims. The use of the software programme Tropes V6.2 is enlisted to identify the word counts, content types and language styles the two extracts have. On the basis of the analysis of these features, an attempt is made to establish the discourse and ideological strategies employed in the two extracts (again cf. Figure 4. 2) and the possible inferences that can be made from the use of such discourse and ideological strategies. The use of the software programme WordWeb 3.03 is also enlisted to cross-validate the ideological tendencies or practices inferred from the discourse and ideological strategies employed in the two extracts. Finally, the study presents a summary of its findings, makes recommendations, and suggests further study.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Non-morphematic word-formation processes: a multi-level approach to acronyms, blends, clippings and onomatopoeia
    (University of the Free State, 2004-05) Fandrych, Ingrid Mina; Greyling, W. J.
    Mainstream word-formation looks at how morphemes, which, according to de Saussure, are signs consisting of a signifiant (form) and a signifié (content), form new transparent complex lexemes, which can be analysed in terms of their determinant/determinatum structure. Thus, existing signs form new signs. These new signs are transparent or motivated: speakers can deduce the meanings of these new formations, provided they know the meanings of the constituents. Used frequently, and if there is a need for these new signs (naming function), they can enter the mental lexicon, that is, speakers no longer think of them as composites but store and use them as independent units (lexicalisation). However, not all word-formation processes are that regular, which led to their neglect for a long time, especially when Generative Grammar was the dominant approach in linguistics. These non-morphematic word-formation processes are not characterised by a determinant/determinatum structure; they cannot be analysed in terms of morphemes. They are shortenings (acronyms like Aids consist of the initial letters of word groups; blends like smog 'blend' submorphemic elements, thus forming new unanalysable monemes and clippings like exam shorten existing words arbitrarily) and onomatopoeia (imitations of extralinguistic sounds such as rattle, sound symbolism which approximates movement and/or sounds such as rush, and reduplications such as tick-tock, helter-skelter, girly-girly). A numerical analysis of the OALD4 demonstrates the importance of lexicalised non-morphematic words in the dictionary. The research questions addressed in the study are as follows: a) Are non-morphematic word-formation processes as irregular as previous researchers have claimed? b) How can non-morphematic word-formation processes be integrated into a comprehensive typology of word-formation processes? c) Are there other criteria (in addition to structural ones), which can usefully be applied to the description of non-morphematic word-formation processes, thus ‘rehabilitating’ them and reintegrating them into mainstream word-formation? d) On the basis of these additional, multidisciplinary criteria, is it possible to analyse a corpus of non-morphematic word-formation processes and to establish certain trends and tendencies displayed by these processes? e) What can we learn from non-morphematic word-formation processes for the study of morphematic word-formation processes? The main aim of the study is to ‘rehabilitate’ non-morphematic word-formation processes by re-integrating them into mainstream word-formation. In order to achieve this overarching aim, the ‘niche’ literature on non-morphematic word-formation processes – mostly with a structural and taxonomic slant – is reviewed and critiqued, which results in the first outcome of the study: the xii proposal of a new integrated taxonomy, accompanied by a scale of motivation, both relating non-morphematic word-formation processes to morphematic word-formation processes. Based on the hypothesis that non-morphematic word-formation processes can only be described adequately by taking non-structural aspects into account, such as functional and semantic-motivational levels of language description, the study then programmatically proposes an interdisciplinary, multi-level approach (in the sense of an analytical model) for the description of these word-formation processes and develops a number of criteria for their analysis – the second outcome of the present study. As a third outcome, a corpus of non-morphematic word-formation processes is compiled, in order to test the taxonomies and the interdisciplinary approach. The mutual application of the corpus to the taxonomies and to the multi-level approach in the corpus analysis constitutes the fourth outcome. On the basis of the application in the corpus study, the multi-level approach is critiqued, and this reflective process results in a modified and revised model
  • ItemOpen Access
    Konstitutiewe voorwaardes vir die ontwerp van 'n toets van akademiese geletterdheid
    (University of the Free State, 2010-11) Van Dyk, Tobias Johannes; Weideman, A. J.
    English: Throughput rates at South African universities are low and contribute, among others, to financial losses for a number of stakeholders: students, their parents/guardians, donors of scholarships, universities and the state. This compels institutions to investigate those factors influencing study success. Various international and local investigations indicate that academic language ability is one of several factors that has a significant influence on academic success. In order to make informed decisions about low stakes issues such as language support, universities need mechanisms to enable them to do so. One such mechanism is the use of measuring instruments, such as the Toets van Akademiese Geletterdheidsvlakke (TAG), to make a diagnosis of students‘ academic language ability, and to then place them on appropriate language support programmes. Tests, however, have the obvious power to touch the lives of people in some way. It is therefore necessary that an accountable and transparent approach is followed when designing and implementing tests such as TAG, and when interpreting test results. This is usually done by investigating the reliability and validity of a test; the latter by means of a process of validation. This study is an example of such an investigation where TAG is subjected to thorough and systematic scrutiny. A framework that considers applied linguistics as a discipline of design was followed, against which the construct (underlying theoretical framework), test specifications (the blueprint) and task types, as well as the reliability and validity of TAG were investigated. The framework suggests that a test is a technical design that can be used as solution to a (language) problem. This technical design is grounded upon certain constitutive conditions underlying it, and disclosed by regulative conditions. The former include aspects such as reliability and validity, and the latter utility, transparency, accountability and care. Although the focus of this study was on the constitutive conditions for designing and developing TAG, it repeatedly refers to the importance of the interplay between constitutive and regulative conditions, as well as the fact that a test such as TAG cannot be investigated from one perspective only. The argument of this study is thus that a technically accountable approach to the development and implementation of, and investigations into tests such as TAG is necessary in order to use them in a justifiable and responsible manner. The conclusion of this study is that TAG is a test of high quality and that it can without a doubt be used by universities for purposes of placement, because it was designed and implemented with care and its results are constantly being scrutinised.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Transparency, accessibility and accountability as regulative conditions for a postgraduate test of academic literacy
    (University of the Free State, 2012-01) Rambiritch, Avasha; Weideman, A. J.; Brokensha, S. I.
    English: This study is concerned with transparency, accessibility and accountability as regulative conditions for a postgraduate test of academic literacy. What it will propose to do is investigate how these can be incorporated into the design of one test, the Test of Academic Literacy for Postgraduate Students (TALPS), and theoretically accounted for in terms of a framework. A main focus is to show that the questions raised here about the social dimension of language testing cannot be adequately answered by experts in the field like Messick (1989b; 1996), Bachman and Palmer (1996), and Kunnan (2000; 2004). Instead these questions can be answered in a “third idea, other than validity and usefulness” (Weideman 2009a: 239), as outlined by Weideman, an idea that does not foreground one concept but rather identifies a number of fundamental considerations for language testing. The argument here is that construct and other empirically based forms of validity are not enough to validate a language test and that what is needed, in addition, is a detailed look at issues of transparency, accessibility and accountability. This study begins by contextualising the problem of poor academic literacy and outlining the need for academic literacy tests such as the Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL) and TALPS. This is followed by an in-depth study of previous work in the field of language testing. The literature on key concepts such as validity, reliability, accessibility, transparency and accountability is surveyed as well. An important part of this study is telling the story of TALPS from its initial conceptualisation to its final implementation. Included in this is a detailed study of the reliability and validity of the test, taking the form of a validation argument. Subsequent chapters (5, 6 and 7) focus specifically on issues of transparency, accessibility and accountability as they relate to TALPS. This study would not be complete without the voices of the test takers. A detailed summary of the data collected from a questionnaire administered to students who wrote TALPS is offered as well. The questionnaire has been designed to elicit information, comments, questions and reactions from the testees about the test. The final chapter in this study will attempt to provide a summary of the answers to the important questions that have been asked and answered in the course of this investigation. It will also consider the link between transparency, accessibility and accountability, and will focus briefly on other conditions in the framework that contribute to the design of fair and socially acceptable tests. This study hopes to make a contribution to the field of language testing by concentrating on an area of testing that has been largely ignored – the social dimension. One of the aims of this study is to show the complementarity among the empirical, social and ethical dimensions of TALPS. It therefore provides a framework that incorporates a concern for the empirical analyses of a test as well as a concern for the social dimensions of language testing. Test developers are challenged to consider important questions related to every aspect of the test, leading to the design of fair, accessible tests that are designed by test developers who are willing to be accountable for their designs.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Un-caging meaning in John Capgrave's Life of Saint Katherine Alexandria: bodies and brides of Christ
    (University of the Free State, 2006) Geldenhuys, Katharine Leigh; Raftery, M. M.
    English: Katherine of Alexandria, one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages, was acclaimed for her great learning. This investigation focuses on the fraught relationship between knowledge, the feminine and the idea of the body in the predominantly Catholic society of late medieval England as it is revealed in John Capgrave’s fifteenth century Life of Saint Katherine of Alexandria. In chapter one the interrelations between Katherine, the Virgin Mary and Eve – particularly with regard to each woman’s relation to knowledge – is considered. Capgrave attempts to associate Katherine with the positive example of the Virgin Mary and her relation to knowledge through Christ, the Word, in order to increase admiration for Katherine as a saint. However, as the conversion scene is set in an enclosed garden it recalls the Garden of Eden and the Fall thus also creating parallels between Katherine and Eve. In this way an underlying uneasiness with Katherine’s exceptional level of education as potentially disruptive and negative is achieved. The centrality of marriage to Capgrave’s text is explored in chapter two. The representation of Katherine and the Church as the brides of Christ and the ways in which this essentially feminine image lends itself to associations with the body, as well as the Church’s simultaneous portrayal as the body of Christ, is considered. It is proposed that Katherine may be perceived as a symbolic representative of the Church and although, both the bride and body images have implications of subservience for those placed in the feminine role they also serve to express the intimacy of the relationship striven for with God. Chapter three examines Katherine’s use of the body of rhetoric. It is demonstrated that the changes in her use of rhetoric after her conversion and mystical marriage indicate that, as a woman making effective use of the body of rhetoric to argue for female rule, she may be perceived as transgressing gender boundaries in medieval patriarchal society. The ‘disciplining’ of Katherine’s ‘transgressive’ behaviour may be seen in her mystical marriage to Christ as this is the decisive event which brings her under patriarchal control. Therefore any threat she might have been seen to pose to the status quo is subtly neutralised. In chapter four the analogies relating to the body are further considered, particularly with regard to the spiritual implications. Parallels between St Katherine’s passion and Christ’s Passion are noted to indicate how the imitatio Christi and sponsalia Christi themes converge in Capgrave’s text to elide Katherine (as the ‘body’ and bride of Christ) with the divine (perceived as male). The incident narrated in Capgrave’s prologue, where an English priest has to consume a book in a dream before he can discover St Katherine’s legend, may be seen to reveal her elision with the divine through the interrelations of Katherine, the book containing her legend, the eucharist, the Passion, the Resurrection, relics, the body and the translation of her legend as an ‘un-caging’ of meaning. Thus Capgrave does not shy away from the issues of gender power-relations that were pertinent to his society. Although he appears to be unique among his peers in allowing for quite a balanced debate of these issues in his text, he includes aspects which subtly undercut Katherine’s strident independence as a woman. In this way he is able to honour the saint while simultaneously confirming the ‘proper’ position of women in medieval patriarchal society by equating it to the position of humanity in the Church vis-à-vis Christ. Consequently, Capgrave is able to openly consider challenges to, and yet subtly affirm, the status quo of his society in this multivalent saint’s legend