Stanton Emerson Fisher Wortham

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Judy & Howard Berkowitz Professor of Education, University of Pennsylvania
Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs, Graduate School of Education

Contact information
University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-898-6307
Fax: 215-898-4399
B.A. (Psychology)
Swarthmore College, 1985.
Ph.D. (Human Development)
University of Chicago, 1992.
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Description of Research Expertise

Areas of Expertise
Discourse and narrative analysis
Linguistic anthropology
Immigrant students
Identity development and social identification
Learning in practice

Professional Biography
From his days as an undergraduate at Swarthmore, Dr. Wortham has pursued interdisciplinary studies that stretch across anthropology, education, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology. As a graduate student, he continued his interdisciplinary training in the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago. His first job was at Bates College, where he taught anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, and sociology of education, as well as supervising secondary student teachers. In 1998, he came to Penn GSE, where he currently serves as Associate Dean. In the fall of 2002 and in the 2006-07 year, he served as the Interim Dean. At Penn, he also serves as associated faculty in the Annenberg School for Communication and in the Anthropology and Folklore Graduate Groups in the School of Arts & Sciences.

Dr. Wortham has written widely on classroom discourse and the linguistic anthropology of education. He has been a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow and a National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellow. He serves on the editorial boards of Theory & Psychology, American Educational Research Journal, Linguistics & Education, Mind, Culture & Activity, Critical Discourse Studies, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Discourse Processes, Pedagogies, and Anthropology & Education Quarterly. In 1997, he was awarded the first annual Maine Campus Compact Faculty Service-Learning Award. In 2001, he received the American Educational Research Association Cattell Early Career Award for Programmatic Research. In 2008 he was named a W.T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow, and in 2009, an American Educational Research Association Fellow.

Research Interests and Current Projects
Dr. Wortham’s research applies techniques from linguistic anthropology to uncover social positioning in apparently neutral talk. He studies the linguistic details of how interactional and social processes can go on under the surface of classroom discussions about subject matter. He is particularly interested in interrelations between the official curriculum and covert interactional patterns in classroom discourse and in how the processes of academic learning and social identity development interconnect and facilitate each other. He has also studied interactional positioning that speakers accomplish in media discourse and in autobiographical narrative. Over the last several years he has been studying how Mexican immigrant students are faring, in school and out of school, as they move to towns without a history of Latino presence. Dr. Wortham’s work has involved action research and service learning, ethnography in urban and rural high schools and their surrounding communities, and discourse analysis.

More information about his work can be found at

Selected Publications

Wortham, S.E.F. (ed.): Youth Cultures, Language and Literacy, Review of Research in Education, 35. 2011.

Michel, A. A., & Wortham, S. E. F.: Bullish on Uncertainty: How Organizational Cultures Transform Participants. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Wortham, S.E.F.: Listening for identity beyond the speech event. Teachers College Record 112: 2848-2871, 2010.

Stanton Wortham: Linguistic anthropology of education. Annual Review of Anthropology(37), 37-51, 2008.

Wortham, S. E. F.: Learning Identity: The Joint Emergence of Social Identification and Academic Learning. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Wortham, S. E. F.: Socialization beyond the speech event. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 15: 95-112, 2005.

Wortham, S. E. F.: From good student to outcast: The emergence of a classroom identity. Ethos 32: 164-187, 2004.

Wortham, S. E. F.: The interdependence of social identification and learning. American Educational Research Journal 41: 715-750, 2004.

Wortham, S. E. F.: Accomplishing identity in participant-denoting discourse. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 13: 1-22, 2003.

Wortham, S. E. F., & Rymes, B. (Eds.): Linguistic Anthropology of Education. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

Wortham, S. E. F., Murillo, E., & Hamann, E. (Eds.): Education in the New Latino Diaspora: Policy and the Politics of Identity Westport, CT: Ablex, 2002.

Wortham, S. E. F.: Narratives in Action: A Strategy for Research and Analysis. Teachers College Press, 2001.

Wortham, S. E. F.: Interactionally situated cognition: A classroom example. Cognitive Science 25: 37-66, 2001.

Wortham, S. E. F.: Acting Out Participant Examples in the Classroom. John Benjamins, 1994.

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Last updated: 04/18/2011
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