Scheda insegnamento

Anno Accademico 2017/2018

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

Presentation of key techniques, using sample texts, for the linguistic analysis of political, social and economic texts, including the system of evaluation for persuasion effective rhetorical techniques, textual organisation, cohesion and argument structure speaker/writer importance marking, use of metaphor, competition between metaphors (e.g. the EU as a ‘club’, as a ‘fortress’, as a ‘parent’, as a ‘thief’) ‘non-obvious’ meaning in persuasion and its dangers, including semantic prosody. Two topics will be covered: The development of the English-speaking world and the English world within Europe. At the end of the course, students will be able to conduct a linguistic and content analysis of key texts and to discuss it in an «Oxford-style» debate.


A course in political linguistics

The study of “language and power” is intended as the study of the power of communication and persuasion, particularly that of politicians, experts and the media.

All political and social-policy activity is carried out using the medium of language, either spoken or written, from parliamentary debates to the drafting of laws, from political interviews to international treaties. In a democratic society, language is the vehicle of the competitive exchange and growth of ideas, whether they be strictly political or economic, legal or social. How language is used in politics and its related areas, is a common topic of public debate and yet the linguistic mechanisms used in writing, speeches or debate to attempt to persuade an audience of one’s arguments and to resist and challenge the ideas of others, are not often studied in a course of political science.

In this course we examine, through examples, the mechanisms that the language provides to practice the art of persuasion. At the same time, by analysing these mechanisms, we learn how, when necessary, other similar organisations attempts to mediate and even resist their attempts to persuade and control. In a democratic society, language is both a resource and a battlefield.

Students learn advanced techniques of textual analysis of political, sociopolitical and media discourses. They learn to:

  1. identify the overall argumentative / persuasive structure of political and sociopolitical discourses, including the problem –solution, hypothesis-evidence and evaluative contrast models.
  2. identify and explain the evaluative patterns in a text, given that evaluation is the engine of persuasion; who is evaluating, what is being evaluated, using which language and with what rhetorical purpose
  3. recognize, analyse and interpret rhetorical devices employed in texts (from 'creative repetition to metaphor and metonymy) in a text and explain how they are relevant to a speaker’s or writer’s argumentative intentions.
  4. Logical vs non-logical types of argument, ideational and interpersonal arguments; personal narrative.

Students will examine, employing the discourse-analytical skills learned during the course and using relevant modern examples, the use and misuse of language in persuasive political rhetoric. Particular attention is paid to what makes media communication so frequently distorted. This involves the study of overall news values (‘newsworthiness’) and examples of media misinformation and ignorance on such issues as violence, conflict and world health.


Attenders: the folder ('dispensa') "The Language of International Politics and Solidarity" (available form the photoshop in via Broccindosso. Other readings will be announced during the lessons of the course


Obligatory: "Civilization: The West and the Rest" (Ferguson), "The Language of Persuasion in Politics" (Partington & Taylor, Routledge) and the folder ('dispensa') "The Language of International Politics and Solidarity" (available form the photoshop in via Broccindosso.


Highly recommended for all: "The Bottom Billion (Collier), "The Undercover Economist" (Harford); "The Rational Optimist" (Ridley).

Metodi didattici

Lessons are conducted in English. Students are expected to take an active part in discussion and practical activities will be set for self study. 

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

Attenders RILM:

Written exam: questions testing the undersatnding of the course contents and a reading comprehension on a topic relevant to international relations and / or international devlopment.



Non Attenders

A written exam on the texts:

"Civilization: The West and the Rest" (Ferguson), "The Language of Persuasion in Politics" (Partington & Taylor, Routledge) and the Dispensa (available from the Photoshop in Via Broccindosso).

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Lessons are conducted in English and where appropriate multi-media learning supports will be employed (especially PowerPoint and Internet). Students are encouraged to participate in class discussions and organised debates.

Link ad altre eventuali informazioni


Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Alan Scott Partington