Intertextuality in Political Discourse

Intertextuality in Political Discourse

Elena Kitaeva (St. Petersburg State University, Russia) and Olga Ozerova (St. Petersburg State University, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9444-4.ch007
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The chapter presents the discussion on intertextuality role in political discourse, namely in key leaders' political speeches. Intertextuality highlights the uncontested dialogicity of political discourse and takes it to the next level of decoding the speaker's message to the audience. By means of intertextuality, political leaders establish links with their audience outlining common values with the support of history, cultural traditions, and religion. Research into the speeches by key politicians allows the authors to reveal trends of intertext usage in European and American political discourse.
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Political speech is the most salient genre introduced in the field of political discourse (Chernyavskaya, 2006). Political speech speaks volumes of how the power is transferred, exercised, and generally perceived in a country. Political speech is a powerful source of influence for the state institutions, that determine political and social processes in the society (Fairclough, 1989); political speech is a powerful tool for shaping the political thinking and political “mind” of a nation, that enables the actors and recipients of the political activity to acquire a certain political vision.

The style of official speech-giving is seen as one of the major cornerstones of communicating the country’s ideology to the public, both domestically-wise and world-wise. As performed by key-politicians of a country, rhetorics of political speech has become identified with the particular political leader and his/her style.

Political discourse encompasses a multitude of rhetoric strategies, tactics and linguistic devices; these are all goal-oriented and depend on the particular goal a politician chooses to pursue. Hence the diversity of discursive strategies is traditionally in the spotlight of linguists and researchers who study and analyze political discourse.

The public use of language has always been a fruitful field of research since Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” dating from the 4th century BC. In the XXth century it gained its momentum after the World War II, when the power of words and persuasion became tragically obvious. A series of research carried out in late 1940-s and 1950-s got into the limelight: intrinsic links between language and politics were studied in Central Europe and Germany, and this was influenced by the overall usage of propaganda and the Cold war onset (Wodak, R.E. 2018 Language and Politics In: English language. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 508 p).

Then, in the 1960-s and 1970-s, the notion of intertext and discourse were brought into the field of linguistics and political studies. According to the concept of discourse by Michel Foucault, discourse is not merely a way of thinking or production of meaning. Discourses deal with the patterns of knowledge which can be found in any disciplinary structure and function by connecting knowledge and power; moreover, they constitute unconscious and conscious mind and emotional life of the subjects they seek to govern (Foucault, 1972). A major body of research on political discourse focuses on discourse in theory and practice, (Dijk, 1997; Wilson, 2001; Chilton, 2004; Lakoff, 2009); parliamentary (Ilie, 2003; Ilie, 2006; Bayley, 2004; Alvarez-Benito, 2009; Dijk, 2004) and presidential discourses (Carpenter, 1982; Kendall, 1995; Gilmore, J., Rowling, 2018).

The concept of intertextuality originates from the M. Bakhtin’s studies on F. Dostoevsky and F. Rabelais (Bakhtin, 1986) and is based upon the polyphonic nature of literary works; later intertextuality was coined as a term by Julia Kristeva (Kristeva, 1986) when she first introduced it at Roland Barthe’s seminars in Paris.

According to J. Kristeva intertextuality is a continuity of texts referring to one another, producing and reproducing over time other texts/discourses. N. Fairclough argues that all texts are inherently intertextual by their nature, and as such are constituent of other texts (Fairclough, 1992). Dwelling on the notion that texts immersed into one another create a dense and diverse context, G. Genette defines intertextuality as a relationship of co-presence between texts (Genette 1997; Alfaro, 2016).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Intertextual Analysis: Analysis of all types of intertext inclusions, their functions and meaning they create in a new text.

Political Speech: The talk of a professional politician addressed to a certain target group (e.g., electorate in general, students, older citizens, etc.) and aimed to pursue them to support her/his ideas and activities.

Intertextuality/Intertext: A continuity of texts referring to one another, producing and reproducing over time other texts/discourses.

Intext Inclusions: All types of inclusions from existed texts (written/oral) into a new one, thus creating additional deeper meanings, language means of establishing rapport with the target audience.

Political discourse: The text and talk of professional politicians or political institutions, such as presidents and prime ministers and other members of government, parliament or political parties, both at the local, national and international levels, includes both the speaker and the audience.

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