Research in Critical Discourse Studies - Website Teun A. van Dijk

Project on Context

Since several years I have been engaged in a project on the theory of context. This project culminated in a large (700 pp) book, which however for obvious reasons (no publisher today publishes theoretical books of this size) had to be split into two books, one on context, language, cognition and discourse, and one on context, social cognition, society, and culture. The example used throughout this book is a speech by Tony Blair persuading  British parliament to accept his motion to invade Iraq. The last chapter of the second book analyzes this whole debate, and thus also implies a more political application of the theory. The main thesis of the theory is that contexts are not, as was hitherto assumed, some kind of social environment of talk and text, but rather the interpretation by the participants of the ongoingly relevant dimensions of this social environment. This interpretation is represented in so-called 'context models' in episodic memory. These context models control all the relevant aspects of the production and comprehension of discourse that vary with the social situation.

Those who are interested may have a look at the Preface of the (first) of these two books on context.

My publications on context:


  • Text and context. Explorations in the semantics and pragmatics of discourse . London: Longman, 1977.
*Spanish translation: Texto y contexto. Madrid: Catedra, 1980.
*Italian translation: Testo e contesto. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1981.
  • Discourse and Context. A sociocognitive approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Society in Discourse. How Context Controls Text and Talk. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.


  • Pragmatics, presuppositions and context grammars. In: S.J. Schmidt, (Ed.) Pragmatik/Pragmatics II, Munich: Fink, 1976, 53-82.
  • A note on the partial equivalence of text grammars and context grammars. In: M. Loflin & J. Silverberg, (Eds.) Discourse and inference in cognitive anthropology . The Hague: Mouton, 1978, 135-144.
  • Acceptability in context. 1974. In: S. Greenbaum, (Ed.), Acceptability in Language . The Hague: Mouton, 1977, 39-62.
  • Context and cognition. Knowledge frames and speech act comprehension. Journal of Pragmatics 1, 1977, 211-232.
  • Relevance in text and context. Paper Nobel Symposium on Text Processing, Stockholm, 1980. In: S. Allen, (Ed.) Text processing . Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1982, 415-432.
  • Context models and text processing. In M. Stamenow (Ed.). Language Structure, Discourse and the Access to Consciousness . (pp. 189-226). Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1997.
  • Towards a Theory of Context and Experience Models in Discourse Processing. In Herre van Oostendorp & Susan Goldman (Eds.), The construction of  mental representations during reading. (pp. 123-148). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1999.
  • Discourse, ideology and context. Folia Linguistica, XXX/1-2, 2001, 11-40   (Special issue edited by Ruth Wodak).
  • Algunos principios de la teoría del contexto. ALED. Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios del Discurso 1(1), 2001, 69-82.
  • Text and context of parliamentary debates. In P. Bayley (Eds.), Cross-cultural Perspective on Parliamentary Discourse. (pp. 339-372). Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2004.
*Spanish version "Textos y contextos de los debates parlamentarios" published in the internet journal Tonosdigital  2 (Noviembre 2001).   
  • Contextual knowledge management in discourse production. A CDA perspective. In Ruth Wodak and  Paul Chilton (Eds.), A New Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis. (pp. 71-100) Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2005.
  • Critical Context Studies. Lecture for the First International Conference of Critical Discourse Analysis, Valencia, May 2004. To be published in a book in honor of Adriana Bolivar, edited by Martha Shiro, Paola Bentivoglio, Frances Erlich.
  • Macro Contexts. Lecture First International Conference on Discourse and Intercultural Relations, University of Murcia, September 2004. In U. Dagmar Scheu Lottgen & José Saura Sánchez (Eds.), Discourse and International Relations. (pp. 3-26). Bern: Lang, 2007.
  • Discourse, context and cognition. Discourse Studies, 8(1), 159-177, 2006.
*Italian translation, "Discorso, contesto e cognizione", in Luciano Vitacolona (Ed.), Testi, contesti, interpreti. Lanciano: Carabba, 2009 (in press).
  • Contextualization in parliamentary discourse. Aznar, Iraq and the pragmatics of lying. Congress on oral discourse, Almería (Spain), November 23-25, 2005. Published in in Teun A. van Dijk, Discourse and Power, pp. 237-261, Houndsmill: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2008.
*Spanish version, "La contextualización del discurso parlamentario: Aznar, Iraq y la pragmática del mentir", In Cortés, L., Bañón, A.M., Muñío, J.L. y Espejo, Mª.M (eds.), Discurso y Oralidad. Homenaje al Prof. José Jesús de Bustos Tovar. Vol. I. (pp. 137-180). Editorial Arco/Libros, Madrid, 2007.
  • Comments on Context and Conversation. In Norman Fairclough, Giuseppina Cortese & Patrizia Ardizzone (Eds), Discourse and Contemporary Social Change. (pp. 281- 316). Bern: Peter Lang, 2007.
  • Context Theory and the Foundation of Pragmatics. December 2007. Plenary Lecture Congress of the Pragmatics Society of Japan, Osaka, December 2007. To be published in the Proceedings, 2009
  • Text, context and knowledge. Unpublished, July 2008.
*French version to be published in Semen, 2009

Updated May 1, 2009