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Digital Archive of Political Texts
Readings for Content Analysis
- Corcoran, Paul E. Political Language and Rhetoric Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979.
- "Contemporary political language--as opposed to formal rhetoric--has assumed a peculiar and in some senses an inverted social function as a technique of linguistic expression. .. In short, contemporary political language may play precisely the reverse role from that classically conceived for political rhetoric. Instead of a rhetorical 'method' to inform, persuade and enlighten, contemporary political language aims at an etiolated monologue which has no content, which placates, and which bears no relationship to the organization, coherency and clarification of information and ideas." (p.xv)
- Edelman, Murray. Constructing the Political Spectacle Chicago, 1988.
- "Now Edelman goes further [than his earlier books], positing that political actors are themselves subjects constructed and constituted by language--political language is not about reality but IS reality. Vital to the construction and uses of social problems, crises, political leaders, enemies, threats, and reassurances, i.e., what the author labels 'the political spectacle,' is news." (D. Nimmo, CHOICE, June, 1988)
- Green, David. Shaping Political Consciousness: The Language of Politics in America from McKinley to Reagan Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.
- Green analyzes "the labels which have dominated American political discourse and shaped the structure of political power from McKinley to Reagan. This work is at its best in the trenches of detailed historical description. It reveals the history of how various people--mainly presidents and elite political pundits--have used five major 'good and bad' label combinations for political purposes. The 'individualist' label of the 1860s-1890s--used by corporations and those opposed to corporate power--was juxtaposed to 'paternalism.' In the 1890s this gave way to McKinley's 'conservatism' which stood opposed to radicalism.' From 1900-1930 the dominant tension was between 'progressives' variously defined by Teddy Rosevelt, Wilson, and even Hoover, and 'reactionaries.' Rooseveltarian 'liberalism' replaced the 'progressive' label in the 1930s in opposition to 'conservatism.' During the end of the Truman presidency the 'anticommunist' label appeared.
"Since Eisenhower's 'middle of the road' label, which was a 'moderate conservatism' embracing the New Deal, America has developed no new vocabulary. Instead political discourse has occurred through negative self-definition. While Kennedy and Johnson identified themselves as 'liberals,' both based the political and economic policies upon a negative, 'anticommunist presumption' (253). Ronald Reagan--a master in the art of linguistic coufusion--frequently quoted Franklin Roosevelt in support of his 'conservative revolution.' According to Green, '[k]keeping alive the debate about 'liberalism' versus 'conservativsm' was a distraction that effectively diverted attention from the fact that Reagan's most important political label was not 'conservative' but 'anticommunist' . (257) The era of negative self-definition continues. George Bush made it abundantly clear that he is NOT a liberal, but thus far it is impossible to say what he IS." (p.1027)
- Hart, Roderick P. Verbal Style and the Presidency: A Computer-Based Analysis. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press, 1984.
- Klingberg, Frank L. "The Historical Alternation of Moods in American Foreign Policy," World Politics (January, 1952), 239-273.
- Lasswell, Harold D. and Nathan Leites and Associates. Language of Politics: Studies in Quantitative Semantics New York: George W. Stewart, 1949.
- "The central theme of this book is that political power can be better understood in the degree that language is better understood, and that the language of politics can be usefully studied by quantitative methods," (p.v)
- Nimmo, Dan and Keith Sanders (eds.). Handbook of Political Language Beverly Hills, Sage Publications, 1981.
- Chapter 4: "the Problem of Validating Content Analysis," (pp. 55-82)
Parkin, David. "Political Language," Annual Review of Anthropology. Volume 13, 1984. Pp. 345-365.
- Rank, Hugh. The Pep Talk: How to Analyze Political Language
- Park Forest, Illinois: The Counter-Propaganda Press, 1984.
- The book discusses persuasion as a transaction between our own behaviors as benefit-seekers and persuaders' behaviors as benefit-promisers. The "pitch" and the "pep talk" are the most common overall strategies of persuasion today. They stress emotional appeals and image-building. The book focuses on the pep talk, whith seeks to bond people together for a good cause. "The final section of the book focuses on the CONTENT (not the FORM) of political messages in the typical election campaign. The basic CLAIMS and CHARGES made by ANY politician are summarized in one key sentence ('I am competent and trustworthy; from me, you'll get more "good" and less "bad.") and the rest of the chapter explains and qualifies this statement." (pp.5-6)
Rodgers, Daniel T. Contested Truths: Keywords in American Politics Since Independence. Basic Books, 1987.
- Stuckey, Mary E. Getting into the Game: The Pre-Presidential Rhetoric of Ronald Reagan. Praeger, 1989.
- "This book contains useful information about Ronald Reagan as a rhetor but suffers from inadequate analytic context and substantive depth. Stuckey analyzes Reagan's pre-presidential speeches in a series of chapters, each organized to present a brief factual background of the period, the contours of his rhetorical style, and an analysis of a representative speech. .. the book does contain a useful appendix on rhetorical analysis." (S.E. Schier, CHOICE, Nov., 1989)
Tulis, Jeffrey K. The Rhetorical Presidency (Princeton, 1987)
- Windt, Theodore Otto. Presidents and Protesters: Political Rhetoric in the 1960s Alabama, 1990.
- "Windt presents an impressive analysis of the importance of rhetoric to actual US politics, whether in the White House or in the streets. His work demonstrates how much one can learn about politics by taking seriously the consciously articulated arguments of political leaders and activists, a research approach largely ignored by practitioners of behavioral and formal analysis. The chapters on the three presidents of the '60s are especially illuminating, each adding considerably to an understand of their presidencies and political careers. Windt also manages to make sense of the seeming rhetorical cacophony of various '60s protest movements by identifying four forms of rhetoric consistently in use during this time." S.E. Schier, CHOICE (May, 1991).