Archive for ‘discourse theory’

24 September 2011

Twitter @discoursology

At least one of the Berlin-based discoursologists is now able to communicate in less than 140 characters…. @discoursology #discourse #media #ethnography #russia #theory

2 September 2011

CDA and education

Rebecca Rogers’ Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education is out in a new, revised, updated second edition. This edition includes chapters by James Paul Gee, Norman Fairclough and Gunther Kress. The richly resourced companion website (Routledge website) offers chapter abstracts, discussion guides for the chapters, and interviews with Gee, Fairclough and Kress. A real gem is the video page, including clips with Chouliaraki, van Dijk, Martín Roja, and van Leeuwen discussing among other things the future of critical discourse analysis and discourse studies.

10 August 2011

The language of riots

1. BBC World reported yesterday that the police had announced “that Mark Duggan had not fired the first shot”. This is linguistically correct. But since apparently all shots fired were from police guns, the negation is midleading.

2. Young people have now occasionally been interviewed – and given space to speak – on tv. They are not talking about deprivation, bad parenting or cutbacks. They repeatedly say it is about the police: police corruption and unfair treatment. Since I can’t link to the tv news here, …:

One 18-year-old man told the Independent, “Police know what they should have done, they should have come to speak to the community themselves. They don’t care. You don’t get no opportunities around here,” he went on. “The police stop you because you’re black. They stop you because you’re wearing a hood.”

One story on London24 headlines it tonight:

London riots: Police stop and search blamed for tension that sparked Tottenham riots

A 51-year-old builder named as Danny, who lives on the Chesnut Estate in Tottenham, said: “It was triggered by the police really. They terrorise the boys in the area for no obvious reasons. They stop them and search them, it’s bullying really. You see them upset. ‘What the police man just scold me about?’.”

3. The Guardian reports police commander Adrian Hanstock saying: “Last night’s peaceful demonstration was hijacked by a small number of criminal elements, who used that for their own gain.”

Sounds suspiciously similar to the language used by Assad, Mubarak et al. Leaders will be leaders.

9 August 2011

London civil unrest

A lot of words flying around in the “mainstream media” to describe the events in London over the last three days. “Anarchists” being my favourite misnomer (Sky News). “UK riots” has become the key phrase to google, recalling the classic CDA comparison: “10 rioters shot in vilent clash” vs. “Police shoot 10 demonstrators dead during peaceful march”.

It seems the news media and commentariat have forgotten the concerns which have been voiced since the Conservatives and LibDems came to power and started making their radical cutbacks to social services, including but not limited to closing many youth centres before the summer.

And, of course, the widespread corruption in the police which has been receiving major coverage during the Murdoch case – and would unsurprisingly fire up existing tensions between police and local residents.

These cutbacks and revelations,  added to long-standing (institutionalised) social inequalities, are not serving to increase “community cohesion” in today’s UK.

Context and comment here: Nina PowerGavin Knight; Stafford Scott.

Update (see Penny Red):

In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

“Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?”

“Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.”

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ‘’’

There are communities all over the country that nobody paid attention to unless there had recently been a riot or a murdered child. Well, they’re paying attention now.

(…thanks to miriyam aouragh on mediantho for the motivation to write… she recommends:

The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone“. By Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett)

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2 July 2011

Jon Stewert a discoursologist

On yesterday’s Daily Show (Thurs 30. June 2011), Jon Stewart commented on one story: “I used to think reality shapes politics, now it’s clear: politics shapes reality.” Dynamic critical journalism meets discourse theory.

9 June 2011

Positive Discourse Analysis

Just finished writing a dictionary entry for “positive discourse analysis” and came across this book, which has a whole chapter on “Critical Discourse Analysis and Positive Discourse Analysis”:

Laura Alba-Juez (2009) Perspectives on Discourse Analysis: Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press.

Including interesting online links to, e.g. critical discussion on whether positive discourse analysis is just a blase celebration of the status quo, and a recent paper from Jim Martin on the issues.

28 May 2011

Niggemeier. Spiegel. Sex. CDA.

Once again, Stefan Niggemeier presents a fast, enertaining, thoroughly critical discourse analysis, including metaphor analysis, chronological analogies, three-part lists, etc. This time of a Spiegel article on Strauss-Kahn: Spiegel. Sex. Power. Bullshit.

24 May 2011

Journalism and the Political

New book announcement:
Macgilchrist, Felicitas (2011): Journalism and the Political: Discursive tensions in news coverage of Russia. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture, Vol. 40) (full price; slightly less expensive)

Summary: Journalism is often thought of as the ‘fourth estate’ of democracy. This book suggests that journalism plays a more radical role in politics, and explores new ways of thinking about news media discourse. It develops an approach to investigating both hegemonic discourse and discursive fissures, inconsistencies and tensions. By analysing international news coverage of post-Soviet Russia, including the Beslan hostage-taking, Gazprom, Litvinenko and human rights issues, it demonstrates the (re)production of the ‘common-sense’ social order in which one particular area of the world is more developed, civilized and democratic than other areas. However, drawing on Laclau, Mouffe and other post-foundational thinkers, it also suggests that journalism is precisely the site where the instability of this global social order becomes visible. The book should be of interest to scholars of discourse analysis, journalism and communication studies, cultural studies and political science, and to anyone interested in ‘positive’ discourse analysis and practical counter-discursive strategies.

The thing is, critical discourse analysis has done a huge amount to draw attention to the role of language, and other forms of semiosis, in shaping what counts as politics, as acceptable, as thinkable and “normal”, i.e in what becomes (however temporarily ad precariously) hegemonic. But, how do we now respond to for instance Latour’s call to re-arm? Using very military metaphors, he worries that the critical spirit, now ensnared in deconstruction, may no longer be aligned to the right target.

To remain in the metaphorical atmosphere of the time, military experts constantly revise their strategic doctrines, their contingency plans, the size, direction, technology of their projectiles, of their smart bombs, of their missiles: I wonder why we, we alone, would be saved from those sort of revisions. It does not seem to me that we have been as quick, in academe, to prepare ourselves for new threats, new dangers, new tasks, new targets. Are we not like those mechanical toys that endlessly continue to do the same gesture when everything else has changed around them? Would it not be rather terrible if we were still training young kids–yes, young recruits, young cadets–for wars that cannot be thought, for fighting enemies long gone, for conquering territories that no longer exist and leaving them ill-equipped in the face of threats we have not anticipated, for which we are so thoroughly disarmed? (Latour, Bruno. 2004. “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern.” Critical Inquiry 30(2): 225-48.)

Journalism and the Political is one attempt to retool. It uses a pinch of deconstruction, a splash of CDA and a dash of (other) post-foundational political/cultural theories to explore the fissures and gaps in what seems to be hegemonic discourse. Perhaps a critical spirit, which forces these fissures into the foreground, can widen the gaps, target new threats, and broaden new possibilities?

11 April 2011

The irrational in Russian history and culture

Conference in Moscow next week from 14 to 16 April 2011, at the German Historical Institute. Programme:

Thursday 14 April 2011
9.30-9.45 Welcome
9.45-12.00 Panel 1: The Irrational and Religious Experience

  • Michail Dmitriev (Moskva) 0b irratsional’nom v traditsionnoy pravoslavnoy kul’ture Moskovskoy Rusi i Rossii
  • Ekaterina Emeliantseva (Bangor) Emotional Styles within Ekaterina Tatarinova’s Spiritual Brotherhood (1817-37)
  • Irina Paert (Tallinn) Preternatural, Irrational, Bizarre and the Russian spiritual elders (startsy)
  • Page Herrlinger (Bowdoin College) Healing Russia: Religious and Secular Perspectives on the “Miraculous” powers of brother Ioann Churikov in St. Petersburg, 1894-1917

12.00-12.20 Coffee Break

12.20-14.00 Panel 2: Anthropology/Narodnaya kul’tura

  • Jule Herzberg (Munich) On the Rationality of Dreams: Visions, Nightmares, and Dreams in Peasant Writing from Tsarist and Soviet Russia
  • Anton Salmin (Sankt-Peterburg) Znacharstvo u chuvashey kak irratsional’noe yavlenie
  • Ekaterina Chodzhaeva (Kazan’) «Sumasshedshie» i militsionery

14.00-15.30 Lunch

15.30-17.15 Panel 3: Literature

  • Mariya Mayofis (Moskva) Sumasshestvie, slaboumie ili sotsial’nyy nevroz? Poet Aleksandr Kvashnin-Samarin
  • Ilya Vinitsky (Pennsylvania) Mystical Undercurrents of Russian Realism
  • Nikolay Bogomolov (Moskva) Simvolizm kak pogranichnoe sostoyanie: vzglyad iznutri i izvne

Friday 15 April 2011
10.00-11.45 Panel 4: Psychology

  • Michail Velizhev (Moskva) Chaadaevskoe delo 1836g. i istoriya bezumiya v Rossii
  • Sabina Maier (Moscow) Analyzing Dostoevsky: Concepts of the Irrational in Early Russian Psychoanalysis
  • Gregori Dyufo (Paris) Ratsional’naya organizatsiya dlya bol’nych umov? Psichiatricheskie uchrezhdeniya v Sovetskom Soyuze 1920-ch godov

11.45-12.15 Coffee

12.15-13.50 Panel 5: The Irrational Self

  • Lynn Patyk (Florida) The Terrorist State of Mind: I. Kaliaev
  • Julia Mannherz (Oxford) Occultism and Irrational Insight
  • Polina Barskova (Hampshire College) The Super-Fantastic Reality of Historical Disaster: The Siege Self in Contact with the Irrational (1941-1944)

14.00-15.30 Lunch

Trip to Muzey istorii Moskovskoy gorodskoy psichiatricheskoy bol’nitsy im. N.A. Alekseeva

Saturday 16 April 2011
10.00-11.45 Panel 6: Musical and Literary Aesthetics

  • Rebecca Mitchell (Urbana-Champaign) In Search of Orpheus: Music and Irrationality in Late imperial Russia
  • Amrei Flechsig (Hannover) The multi-faceted Russian irrational in Music: Alfred Schnittke’s opera Life with an Idiot
  • Yelena Karlinsky (Rutgers) Performance Vision: Psychic Break and Aesthetic experience in Andrei Monastyrskii’s Kashirskoe shosse

11.45-12.15 Coffee Break

12.15-13.50 Panel 7: Science

  • Nikolay Mitrochin (Bremen) Sovetskaya intelligentsiya v poiskach chuda: religioznost’ i paranauka v SSSR v 1953-1985 godach
  • Aleksandr Panchenko (St. Petersburg) “Sacred energies”: History of Science and Esoteric Culture in Twentieth Century Russia

12.55-14.00 Concluding Discussion

6 April 2011

Wallonia occupies Brussels

5. April 2011. Ghent. A decision by the French Community of Belgium to rename itself the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Wallonia-Brussels Federation) could mark a dramatic shift in Brussels’ status. The French Community, one of the three official institutions with legal responsibilities for particular geographic regions within Belgium, has shifted its discursive boundaries. Will the Flemish Community reply by renaming itself the Flanders-Brussels Federation?

“If you change the language, you change the world” commented one bystanding linguist in Ghent on Tuesday.