IAICS Conference 2018 > Conference Program > Winchatz Bio

Michaela R. Winchatz

Michaela Winchatz

Michaela R. Winchatz (PhD. University of Washington) is Associate Professor and Associate Dean in the College of Communication at DePaul University in Chicago. Her interests are focused on ethnography of communication, cultural discourse analysis, discourse analysis, and conversation analysis, with a special emphasis on studying both English and German cultural ways of speaking. She has published in a variety of journals such as Research on Language and Social Interaction (ROLSI), Communication Monographs, Discourse Studies and Field Methods.

Keynote Address: "If Germans see a light at the end of the tunnel, they first tend to make the tunnel longer:"  German Jammern and the speech code of despondency.

Abstract:  This presentation highlights and extends research I have completed on a distinctive and culturally significant way of speaking in Germany called Jammern (to whine or yammer). Data stem from a variety of sources: 1) over 600 articles that appeared in regional and national German media outlets between 2004 and 2016; 2) media coverage of the German advertising campaign “Du bist Deutschland” (“You are Germany”); 3) fieldnotes collected during a 4-month research stay in Landau, Germany; 4) in-depth, semi-structured, ethnographic interviews conducted in Germany with 25 German native speakers between the ages of 20 and 69 yrs. An examination of this data revealed the characteristics, components and interpretations of Jammern available in German speakers’ interactions and in German national media outlets. Further, the findings point to a larger question: What is the system of symbols, meanings, premises, and rules pertaining to communicative conduct within Germany that underlies Jammern as a cultural way of speaking? Building on the previous findings, I seek to answer this question by using elements of Hymes’s SPEAKING mnemonic and Philipsen et al’s (2005) Speech Codes Theory in order to formulate the main components of what I call a ‘speech code of despondency’ (“Niedergeschlangenheit”). The formulation of this way of speaking and speech code may be helpful to cultural and intercultural scholars seeking to better understand comparative and contrasting communicative forms in German speech communities as well as in broader international contexts.