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The transgressive that: making the world uncanny.

Hayward, Rachael; Wooffitt, Robin; Woods, Catherine


Rachael Hayward

Robin Wooffitt

Catherine Woods


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.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 15, 2015
Journal Discourse studies
Print ISSN 1461-4456
Electronic ISSN 1461-7080
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 6
Pages 703-723
Institution Citation HAYWARD, R., WOOFFITT, R. and WOODS, C. 2015. The transgressive that: making the world uncanny. Discourse studies [online], 17(6), pages 703-723. Available from:
Keywords Anomalies; Conversation analysis; Demonstratives; Noticing; Uncanny


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