Obeng Discourse Analysis Syllabus

Spring 18
L700: Political Discourse Analysis
Samuel Obeng: [email protected]
Meeting Times: MW 11:15 am to 12:30 pm PH 155
Room: PH 155
Office Hours: W 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Readings/Texts (Required): Articles will be uploaded to Canvas prior to Week 1 and are
subject to change.
Course Description:
This course explores the discursive strategies employed in the domain of politics. In
particular, we inspect the interconnectedness between language and politics by observing
how political actors and political commentators use language to talk about politics and how
politics informs language. The language to be studied includes that of party propaganda,
slogans, political ads, political campaigns, congressional or parliamentary sessions, cabinet
meetings, and State of the Union/Nation speeches.
An important aspect of the course is a discussion of various discourse theories and
methodologies including: Critical Discourse Analysis (Teun van Dijk), Political Discourse
(Wilson), Discourse and Media (Colleen Cotter), Discourse Analysis in the Legal Context
(Roger W. Shuy), Discourse and Racism (Wodak and Reisigl), Discourse and Relevance
Theory (Diane Blakemore), Interactional Sociolinguistics (John J. Gumperz), Semantic,
Discursive, and Pragmatic Markers in Discourse (Deborah Schiffrin).
Other topics to be synthesized and analyzed are: political insults and name-calling
(especially 'Trumpisms'); the interconnectedness between language, power and politics;
discursive constructions of liberty; as well as political speech making and the concept of
rhetoric (especially the use of such rhetorical strategies such as metaphors, analogies,
innuendoes, evasion, similes, glittering generalities, transfer, testimonial, euphemisms,
gobbledygook, proverbs, etc.).
We will also discuss the concepts of truth, spin and exaggeration in politics. Political actors
use of intertextuality, vagueness, pronoun switching, and indirectness (through metaphor,
analogy, innuendo, and circumlocution and, symbolism etc.) will be explicated and
exemplified. The course ends with a structural analysis of political manifestoes and the
language of war.
Course requirements: Percent of grade
Participation and Discussions 50%
Final paper 30%
Presentation 20%
General information:
Regular attendance and participation is assumed. Students are expected to come to class
prepared. By this it is meant that students should have done the readings that were assigned
for that particular class. The format of this class will include a “lecture” section (Mondays)
and applied discussion sections Wednesdays). Although I am aware that students vary in
terms of degree of participation, I expect all students to demonstrate that they have read the
assigned materials and that they are applying the knowledge gained through the discussion
sections. Failure to evidence this will negatively impact class participation grade. Tardiness
and absences will also negatively impact grade.
Tentative Schedule:
Tentative schedule will be uploaded to Canvas prior to Week 1.