Discourse Theory and Cultural Analysis

A timely new book has just been published – the first collection of papers exporing ways in which discourse theory, as inspired by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, can aid the analysis of media and other cultural forms. Following an introduction by the editors, Nico Carpentier and Erik Spinoy (From the political to the cultural), the fifteen substantive chapters are divided into five sections: TV, Radio & Print // Arts/Film // Ads // ICT // Literature.

Nico Carpentier & Erik Spinoy (Eds.) (2008) Discourse Theory and Cultural Analysis: Media, Arts and Literature. Hampton Press

Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s discourse theory has been successfully used in the study of many areas of the political-ideological, including Apartheid, populism, fascism, new social movements, ecology and revolutionary discourses. Surprisingly, the attempts to move beyond the confines of political theory and research are still very rare.

This book’s main objective is to expand discourse theory into the realm of the cultural, by focusing on specific discursive machines and mechanisms in the fields of the media and the arts & literature. The themes vary from war to gaming culture, from new realist poetry to Mario Toral’s mural painting, and from literary history to Mexican cinema. The greater number of chapters in this volume deals with a variety of media, including television, newspapers, film, ads, press communiqués, online forums and videogames. Content-wise these chapters are majoritarily discourse-theoretical analyses of a wide range of conflicts and their representations. Although the application of discourse theory is virtually non-existent within the realm of Literary and Art Studies, a substantial number of chapters introduces key discourse-theoretical notions as antagonism and agonism, hegemony, and indeterminacy into these fields.

All in all, the operationalisation of discourse theory in the study of media, literature and other artistic fields allows for a dry-eyed, sobered-up continuation of earlier poststructuralist and deconstructionist research. It proves, moreover, to be an asset in paving the way for innovative approaches to comparative and multimedia  / interartistic research, and in doing so it offers an important contribution to scholarly debates in a wide range of disciplines.

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