Critical reading of a text through its electronic supplement

Kieran O’Halloran
Published Online: Oct 15, 2010
Abstract | References | Full Text: HTML, PDF (920 KB)


A by-product of new social media platforms is an abundant textual record of engagements – billions of words across the world-wide-web in, for example, discussion forums, blogs and wiki discussion tabs.  Many of these engagements consist of commentary on a particular text and can thus be regarded as supplements to these texts.  The larger purpose of this article is to flag the utility value of this electronic supplementarity for critical reading by highlighting how it can reveal particular meanings that the text being responded to can reasonably be said to marginalise and / or repress.  Given the potentially very large size of social media textual product, knowing how to explore these supplements with electronic text analysis software is essential.

To illustrate the above, I focus on how the content of online discussion forums, explored through electronic text analysis software, can be used to assist critical reading of the texts which initiate them.  The paper takes its theoretical orientations from the textual intervention work of Rob Pope together with themes in the work of the philosopher, Jacques Derrida.

Keywords: Corpus linguistics, critical discourse analysis, critical reading; electronic supplementarity, interavention, Jacques Derrida, lexical cohesion, Rob Pope, text absences, text margins

Biographical Statement

Kieran O’Halloran is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics in the Centre for Language and Communication at the Open University, UK.  He is interested in the application of corpus linguistics to discourse analysis—specifically to critical discourse analysis, literary stylistics and argumentation—as well as cognitive issues in critical discourse analysis.

Publications include Critical Discourse Analysis and Language Cognition (Edinburgh University Press, 2003), Applying English Grammar: Functional and Corpus Approaches (Hodder Arnold, 2004 with Coffin and Hewings), The Art of English: Literary Creativity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006 with Goodman), ‘Researching argumentation in educational contexts: new directions, new methods’ (Special Issue) International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 2008, 31(3) (guest edited with Coffin), and Applied Linguistics Methods: A Reader (Routledge, 2009 with Coffin and Lillis).


Comments are closed.

Digital Culture & Education (DCE) is an international inter-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the exploration of digital technology’s impacts on identity, education, art, society, culture and narrative within social, political, economic, cultural and historical contexts.

We are interested in empirical and conceptual approaches to theorising globalisation, development, sustainability, wellbeing, subjectivities, networks, new media, gaming, multimodality, literacies and related issues and their implications for how we educate and why. We encourage submissions in a variety of modes and invite guest editors to propose special editions.

DCE is an online, open access journal. It does not charge for article submission or for publication. All manuscripts submitted to DCE are double blind reviewed. Articles are published through a Creative Commons (CC) License and made available for viewing and download on a bespoke page at


Follow us on Twitter at @DigitalCultureE

The scale and speed at which digital culture has entered all aspects of our lives is unprecedented. We publish articles and digital works including eBooks (published under Creative Commons Licenses) that address the use of digital (and other) technologies and how they are taken up across diverse institutional and non-institutional contexts. Scholarly reviews of books, conferences, exhibits, games, software and hardware are also encouraged.

All manuscripts submitted to Digital Culture & Education (DCE) are double-blind reviewed where the identity of the reviewers and the authors are not disclosed to either party.

Digital Culture & Education (DCE) does not have article submission charges. Read more

Manuscripts should include:
1. Cover sheet with author(s) contact details and brief biographical statement(s).

Instructions for Authors

Manuscripts submitted should be original, not under review by any other publication and not published elsewhere.
The expected word count for submissions to the journal is approximately 7500 words, excluding references. Each paper should be accompanied by an abstract of up to 200 words.  Authors planning to submit manuscripts significantly longer than 7500 words should first contact the Editor at

All pages should be numbered. Footnotes to the text should be avoided and endnotes should be used instead. Sponsorship of research reported (e.g. by research councils, government departments and agencies, etc.) should be declared.

Read more

Digital Culture & Education (DCE) invites submissions on any aspect of digital culture and education.  We welcome submissions of articles and digital works that address the use of digital (and other) technologies and how they are taken up across diverse institutional and non-institutional contexts. For further inquiries and submission of work, send an email to editor@