Construing emotion in academic writing

L2 writers’ use of Affect in historical explanation essays


  • Gordon Myskow Keio University
  • Masumi Ono Keio University



historical discourse, appraisal framework, affect, evaluative language, second language writing


Writing about historical change involves advancing causal explanations that show how events impact people and how their emotions contribute to historical outcomes such as wars and revolutions. This study uses Martin and White's (2005) Appraisal framework to examine how the language of emotion (Affect), an overlooked feature of historical discourse, is used by L2 writers of an under-examined genre, the Factorial Explanation. The study was conducted in a content-based, politicalhistory course for 63 upper-intermediate learners of English at a Japanese university. Results show that while writers made extensive use of the Affect categories Positive Inclination and Negative Satisfaction, which were often realized as adjectives and verbs, nominal formulations for building cohesion were infrequent. Writers also tended to intensify Affect resources by construing feelings as static attributes rather than destabilizing forces of change. The paper makes recommendations for teaching genre-specific language features to aid learners in construing the emotion of history.

Author Biographies

Gordon Myskow, Keio University

Gordon Myskow (PhD) is Visiting Assistant Professor at Keio University Department of Law and Politics. He teaches content-based courses on socio-political history and masters-level courses in TESOL. He is advisor to the United Nations Association Test of English in Japan. His publications include papers in Journal of English for Academic Purposes, ELT Journal, Functional Linguistics, Linguistics and Education and Visual Communication. His current research focuses on analyzing pedagogical and non-pedagogical historical discourse.

Masumi Ono, Keio University

Masumi Ono (PhD) is Associate Professor in the Department of Law and Political Science at Keio University, Japan. She teaches courses on English for Academic Purposes and Intercultural Communication. Her current research focuses on genre-based approaches, peer feedback, and instruction and assessment of integrated writing. Her recent papers appear in Journal of Writing Research, English Language Teaching, and Journal of Academic Writing.


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How to Cite

Myskow, G., & Ono, M. (2018). Construing emotion in academic writing: L2 writers’ use of Affect in historical explanation essays. Writing and Pedagogy, 10(1-2), 191–219.



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