CCTP-756-01 Language and Politics
Spring for 2010-2011
The mastery of language is highly integrated with political life. The quantity and variety of spoken and written political texts, the wealth of genres and rhetorical styles, and the intensity of the political word offer rich arenas for the study of language. We will approach this task from both communication and linguistic perspectives while examining campaign communication, political speeches, advertising, debates, and media coverage. Both theoretical arguments and case studies will highlight discursive practices of framing, referencing, argumentation and manipulation, as well as the use of labeling, metaphor, speech acts and politeness. We will also consider the role of religion, culture, gender and humor in political discourse. Different approaches to the language of politics – from ethnomethodology and discourse analysis to cognitive and pragmatic methods – will help us shed light on the Aristotelian claim that we are all political animals, able to use language to pursue our own ends. The data for our case studies are drawn from American and international political discourses (including Saddam Hussein's speeches, Croatian political debates, and contemporary French presidential language, to name a few). However, we have just experienced a gripping, remarkable historical presidential campaign, and it is to be expected that much of our data will be drawn from the recent US political discourses. The new US President's inaugural address will, of course, be our first case study.
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