Tag Archives: J.L. Austin

Video Proposal: A Speech-Act Theory Adventure

My video, “A Speech-Act Theory Adventure,” will illustrate four key terms from J.L. Austin’s speech-act theory: utterance, propositional utterance, illocutionary utterance, and perlocutionary utterance. The video will follow a main character through several scenes, including situations from everyday life such as waiting for public transit, making coffee, convincing a partner it’s time for bed, and delivering a sermon. The main character will remain unnamed in order to highlight how one can generalize the video’s conclusions to all linguistic situations.

The video will utilize a chiastic structure: the first half will proceed through examples of utterance, propositional utterance, illocutionary utterance, and perlocutionary utterance (in that order), while the second half will revisit the earlier examples to illustrate how the illocutionary, propositional, and basic utterances (in that order) can all be reinterpreted as perlocutionary, that is seeking to affect the behavior of others. The shot list goes into detail about how I will reveal the perlocutionary aspect of each exchange. I will utilize voice-overs throughout to define key terms and ask probing questions. Happy Fun Communication Land (HFCL) provides visual and textual content for some portions of the video. I will create the animated scenes using GoAnimate, and I plan to edit the video using iMovie and the sound with Audacity.

Through the video, students will learn the definitions of the four key terms in J.L. Austin’s speech-act theory, which will provide an opportunity to discuss speech as an act, language as a performance. Students will become aware of the underlying coercive goals of all (or most) speech/writing/language. The video will ask students to consider whether or not all language is in fact rhetorical.

The video will contribute to several of the big-picture goals that the Council of Writing Program Administrators articulated in its “Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition.” By teaching several key terms and then showing how they can be reinterpreted from a different perspective, the video will engage students in the kind of critical thinking fundamental to the development of their writings skills. In particular, by illustrating the coercive intent of language, the video contributes to the following learning outcome: “By the end of first year composition, students should understand the relationships among language, knowledge, and power.” In a less explicit way, the video itself will show students the potential of technology for expressing ideas in a non-traditional medium.

Shot List


Or click for PDF of shot list.