Carnegie Mellon University

Barbara Johnstone

Barbara Johnstone

Professor Emeritus of English and Linguistics

Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

Education: Ph.D., University of Michigan. MA, University of Michigan. BA, Yale University.


My work is in an area that might be called "discourse studies," at the intersection of rhetoric, linguistics, and critical theory. I have worked on persuasive styles and strategies in the Middle East, on narrative in the American heartland, on the forms and functions of repetition in language, and on the role of the individual in language and linguistics. I am interested in how the relationships between individuals and communities are created and maintained through discourse (talk and writing) and discourses (ways of thinking). My current work is about how the way of talking popularly known as "Pittsburghese" is constructed through local talk, and talk about local talk. I want to see how people's understandings of language and place are connected with language change in this part of the North Midland dialect area, and I am interested in how local-sounding speech functions as a rhetorical resource. I use, and teach others about, qualitative, interpretive research methods such as ethnography and discourse analysis.

  • Discourse Analysis, 2 Ed. Blackwell Introductions to Linguistics. 2008.
  • "Indexicality and Experience: Variation and Identity in Pittsburgh" (first author, with Scott F. Kiesling). Journal of Sociolinguistics., 12: 5-33. 2008.
  • (co-editor, with Christopher Eisenhart) Rhetoric in Detail: Discourse Analysis of Rhetorical Talk and Text.  Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishers.