hands being raised to ask questions at a conference
2020 GRADNASFLA Symposium

Using SFL to Question and Challenge

October 24, 2020 - REMOTE FORMAT
School of Education University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Note: This symposium will now be held entirely ONLINE in a REMOTE format. We look forward to welcoming graduate students and scholars to this socially distant and safe collaborative event!.

Call for Paper/Abstracts

The 2020 GRADNASFLA (Graduate North American Systemic Functional Linguistics Association) Symposium will be held at the University of Michigan School of Education in Ann Arbor, MI. The goal of the symposium is to bring together graduate students and other emerging researchers from across fields with an interest in using systemic functional linguistics (SFL) in research and applied practice. This year’s theme, “Using SFL to Question and Challenge,” highlights the potential for SFL analysis and work to unpack the power of discourse.

Language, as a socially constructed tool for meaning-making, can both construct and conceal power structures in social settings. SFL’s theory, functional grammar, and analytic approaches provide perspectives and tools that enable researchers to explore how “ideologies, identities, and power relations work in society and the ways in which language works to entrench and challenge those relations” (Hammond & Macken-Horarik, 1999, p. 529). In classroom contexts, SFL-based pedagogies also enable talk about meaning that helps students understand the ways they are being positioned by the texts they read (Moore & Schleppegrell, 2014). As Halliday has pointed out, analysis of discourse that does not have a grounding in a social semiotic theory of language and a functional grammar is "simply a running commentary" (Halliday, 1985, p. xvii).

The organizers welcome proposals for paper presentations, roundtable discussions, and electronic posters addressing the conference theme “Using SFL to Question and Challenge.” We invite graduate students, emerging scholars, and early career professionals from any discipline or department whose work incorporates SFL research methodology or applied practice in their field.

The call for proposals opens May 20, 2020 at 12pm EDT (noon) and closes September 1, 2020 at 12am EDT (midnight).

Submission of Proposals

Proposals should be in the form of a ​300-500 word​ description of your project, including how it supports the symposium theme. You will upload your description through the Google Form linked below ​as a Word or pdf document​. The form will also ask you which format your presentation will be in and gather your contact information.
Proposals for the following formats are welcome:

  • Paper Presentations​ (approximately 30 minutes, including time for questions): Paper presentations are an opportunity to present your SFL-informed research project and get feedback from an audience. This is the format for you if you have completed enough work to present on your project and answer questions at the end.
  • Roundtable Discussions​ (approximately 20-minute discussions): Roundtable discussions provide space for scholars who are currently developing an SFL project. This is the format for you if you would like to discuss a work-in-progress with other members of the SFL community in small groups.
  • Electronic Posters​ (for display on a screen): The poster format is an option to visually display your work without the pressure of a presentation. This is the format for you if you want to interact one on one with other conference attendees about your work.

Complete your symposium proposal​ for papers, roundtable discussions, or posters. This link will be available from May 20, 2020 at 12pm EDT (noon) until September 1. All questions should be directed to ​SFLatUofM@umich.edu​.

Further information about symposium logistics will be posted at a later date.


Halliday, M. A. K. (1985). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Hammond, J., & Macken-Horarik, M. (1999). Critical literacy: Challenges and questions for ESL classrooms. TESOL Quarterly, 33(3), 528-544.

Moore, J., & Schleppegrell, M. (2014). Using a functional linguistics metalanguage to support academic language development in the English Language Arts. ​Linguistics and Education, 26​, 92-105.