ENGL489P - Special Topics in English Language; Language and Politics


Politics has certainly gotten interesting lately. This course gives you the tools to help figure out what people are talking about, what assumptions they’re making, and why a candidate who is completely unpersuasive to you can nonetheless find a large and devoted audience.

We begin by talking about word meanings and specifically how words are understood within broad explanatory frameworks and sets of assumptions about how things work, and the organization of information both at the level of the sentence and at the broader rhetorical level. We explore ways in which language is used to express identity and alignment, to include and exclude, and to reflect and construct assumptions about what is normative, and to affect and effect power relationships and group structure. We also examine specific texts to see how the various linguistic and rhetorical elements work together to express underlying ideologies, engage the intended audience, and persuade addressees.

Students will have the opportunity to collect and analyze their own data. Requirements include short assignments and directed responses, participation in discussion, a final paper, and a final exam.