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The transgressive that: Making the world uncanny

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Publication details

JournalDiscourse Studies
DatePublished - 1 Dec 2015
Issue number6
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)703-723
Original languageEnglish


In this article, we examine how the demonstrative that may be used to notice an event in the world in such a way as to suggest it has highly unusual or transgressive properties and in so doing invite others to align with that implicit claim. Drawing on Freud’s notion of the uncanny, we examine instances of the transgressive that in circumstances in which participants at least entertain the possibility that they are experiencing anomalous or paranormal objects and entities. The analysis outlines the basic features of the transgressive that and examines how it may be the vehicle for a range of delicate interpersonal activities. Throughout the article, we try to show the broader relevance of the analytic argument by reference to data from more mundane interactional settings and to other forms of discourse, including fiction, commentary and interview narrative.

    Research areas

  • Anomalies, conversation analysis, demonstratives, noticing, uncanny

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