Linguistics Seminar / BA Paper

Political Communication

122220 SE 2022S

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Vortragende der Germanistik:

Ziele, Inhalte und Methode der Lehrveranstaltung

In this seminar, we will investigate various aspects of political communication from a discourse-analytical perspective, covering genres such as speeches, advertisements, televised debates, press releases, interviews and social media postings. These types of data will be approached through theoretical concepts such as populism, legitimation, interdiscursivity, mediatization or securitization; and they will be empirically analysed in terms of linguistic/semiotic dimensions such as discursive strategies, argumentation (topoi), metaphor, nomination, attribution, multimodality, collocation, frequency and keyness. Note that other concepts and linguistic levels of realization may be included as they become relevant in the data.

Students will write an empirical BA paper based on their findings in a small-scale study designed and conducted by themselves. Students will empirically analyse one aspect, e.g.: The linguistic features of populist discourse in Donald Trump’s speeches… The metaphors employed in election or referendum campaign ads… The discursive strategies used in commemorative speeches… The arguments or topoi used in policy-related press releases… The collocational patterns found in British media reporting on specific policy issues such as migration or COVID-19… etc.

To analyse and understand such aspects of political communication in an anglophone country, the contextualist view of the Discourse-Historical Approach will be used. This approach regards discourses as mutually constitutive with social reality, i.e. discourses construct social reality but are at the same time situated in specific contexts. Context is seen as a field of social forces both enabling and restraining discourses, i.e. exerting influence on what can be said, by who, to who, how, and in what social setting. Discourses are conceptualized as social practices of meaning-making that are predominantly linguistic but also include many other semiotic resources, e.g. gesture, images, video and music. Analysis in the Discourse-Historical Approach is always attentive to the historical and social context of the data studied, attentive to the importance of non-linguistic meanings, and provides the basis for informed critique, e.g. of biased media reporting or fallacious argumentation in political debates.


Art der Leistungskontrolle und erlaubte Hilfsmittel

Course evaluation is based on:
60% seminar paper
20% paper proposal
20% short presentation



will be announced on Moodle and in the course itself



- will learn about discourse analysis in the form of the Discourse-Historical Approach
- will engage with political communication as discourse (in anglopohone countries)
- will learn how to plan a small-scale empirical study
- will learn to select, compile and prepare empirical data for analysis
- will learn how to contextualise discourses
- will learn how to apply theoretical concepts
- will learn how to analyse different levels of linguistic realization
- will learn how to write an empirical paper


Mindestanforderungen und Beurteilungsmaßstab

The minimum requirements for passing the course are:
• regular attendance (max. 2 absences)
• handing in the proposal
• giving the oral presentation (on set date)
• handing in the seminar paper (on time)
The pass rate is > 60%. To pass the course successfully, the final seminar paper has to be positive; if it is not, the whole course is an automatic fail. Final grades & points (%) achieved: Sehr gut: 90-100; Gut: 80-89; Befriedigend: 70-79; Genügend: 60-69; Nicht Genügend: 0-59