HENB0114FU English - Elective 3, topic 3: Language, Politics and Discourse

Volume 2016/2017



It is generally recognized that language has a significant role in politics. Negative implications of this have been the most striking: concepts like spin, newspeak and manipulation abound in discussions about political communication. This puts an obligation on language specialists to use their analytic abilities also in ways that can promote transparency in political discussions and throw light on how language actually works in a political context.

This task comes under the broad heading of ‘discourse analysis’. One type of discourse analysis, known as ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’ is a continuation of a critical tradition that started in the sixties and seventies, where the aim is to focus attention on ideology and on the way power is used and especially abused. While this course will also have a critical orientation, it stresses the need to understand political language as communication and see it in relation to the pressures that the political process is working under (including pressures due to the facts on the ground). Basic principles of rhetorical analysis will also be introduced.

As a label for the analytic method described above, the approach may be called ‘functional-pragmatic discourse analysis’: ‘Functional’ indicates that the analysis seeks to throw light on the job that the texts are assumed to do; ‘pragmatic’ indicates that the analysis refers to key aspects of the context in which the texts belong. As part of this programme, the course also takes up the principles and practices of democratic politics: an awareness of the way the world works in the domain of investigation is a prerequisite for understanding how language functions in that context.

On the basis of central concepts, analytical practices and positions the course aims to stimulate an analytic practice that reflects an awareness of the grounds on which one may legitimately be critical both of politicians and of their critics ( including the ‘commentariat’), when analysing language used in a political context.


  • Paltridge, Brian. 2012. Discourse analysis. (2nd edition). London: Bloomsbury – referred to in the course plan as Paltridge
  • Course Anthology, Language, Politics and Discourse (available at Publi©Kom) – referred to in the course plan as comp.



Please note that discourse analysis is a sprawling field, and vast numbers of books and articles can be found, also on the Net. But be aware (as stressed in the first item on the bibliography) that not all items live up to the term ‘analysis’: make sure your own efforts are worthy of the name!

  • Antaki, Charles, Michael Billig, Derek Edwards and Jonathan Potter. 2002. Discourse Analysis Means Doing Analysis, Discourse Analysis Online, http:/​/​extra.shu.ac.uk/​daol/​articles/​v1/​n1/​a1/​antaki2002002-paper.html (accessed August 21, 2007)
  • Blommaert, Jan and Jef Verschueren. 1998. Debating Diversity: analysing the discourse of tolerance. London & New York: Routledge.
  • Charteris-Black, Jonathan.2011. Politicians and Rhetoric. London: Palgrave.
  • Chilton, Paul. 2004. Analysing Political Discourse. Theory and practice. London: Routledge.
  • Foucault, Michel. 1969.  L’archéologie du savoir [1989: English translation   by A.M. Sheridan Smith.]. The Archaeology of Knowledge.  London: Routledge.
  • Gee, James Paul.  2011. How to do discourse analysis. A toolkit. New York and London: Routledge.
  • Hansen, Lene & Ole Wæver (eds.) 2002. European integration and national identity. The challenge of the Nordic states. London & New York: Routledge.
  • Jones, Rodney H. 2012. Discourse analysis. A resource book for students. London & New York: Routledge.
  • Jørgensen, Marianne Winther og Louise Phillips.1999. Diskursanalyse som teori og metode. København: Samfundslitteratur
  • Lakoff, George. 2004. Don’t think of an elephant! Know your values and frame the debate. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green
  • Lakoff, G. 2006. Whose Freedom? The Battle over America’s Most Important Idea. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Lakoff, Robin Tolmach. 2001. The Language War. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Liu, Shuang, Zala Volčič & Cindy Gallois. 2015. [2010]. Introducing Intercultural communication. Global Cultures and Contexts. London: Sage Publications.
  • Lloyd, John. 2004. What the Media are Doing to Our Politics. London: Constable.
  • Lorenzo-Dus, Nuria. 2009. Television Discourse. Analysing Language in the Media. New York & London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Paltridge, Brian. 2012. Discourse analysis. (2nd edition). London: Bloomsbury.
  • Riggins, Stephen H. 1997. The Language and Politics of Exclusion: Others in discourse. London: Sage Publications.
  • Sarangi, Srikant and Malcolm Coulthard (eds.). 2000. Discourse and Social Life. London: Longman/ Pearson Education
  • Searle, J.R. 1995. The Construction of Social Reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • Schriffrin, Deborah, Deborah Tannen & Heidi E. Hamilton. 2001, 2003. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Talbot, Mary, Karen Atkinson & David Artkinson. 2003. Language and Power in the Modern World. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Thorne, Steve. 2006. The Language of War. London & New York: Routledge.
  • Widdowson, Henry G. (2004): Text, Context and Pretext: critical issues in discourse analysis. Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Woods, Nicola. 2006. Describing discourse. A practical guide to discourse analysis. London: Hodder Arnold.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 162,75
  • Total
  • 204,75
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assesment