Midgley, Warren (2011) Look who's listening: using the superaddressee for understanding connections in dialogue. In: Creating connections in teaching and learning. Research on Teaching and Learning. Information Age Publishing, Charlotte, NC. United States, pp. 153-163. ISBN 978-1-61735-550-9 (pbk); 978-1-61735-551-6 9 (hbk); 978-1-61735-552-3 (ebook)
The superaddressee is a theoretical model drawn from the work of Bakhtin which posits the necessary – in metalinguistic if not metaphysical terms – existence of another higher level addressee in every dialogic exchange. Therefore, when I am talking to somebody, I am also and at the same time talking to a superaddressee present in my mind. This other listener is conceptualised as one who is valorised more highly that the speaker and the listener, and who listens sympathetically and understands justly.
In this chapter I propose that this theoretical model can help to explain the success of efforts to create connections in dialogue: when both parties in a dialogue are addressing a similar superaddressee, connections are more likely to be created than if the superaddressees are quite different. I apply this model to data from conversations with international students about diversity in education to demonstrate the operation of superaddressees in dialogue, and then draw out important implications of this theoretical model for education researchers and practitioners.
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