Straight talking honest politics: Rhetorical style and ethos in the mediated politics of metamodernity

BROWSE, Sam (2020). Straight talking honest politics: Rhetorical style and ethos in the mediated politics of metamodernity. In: RINGROW, Helen and PIHLAJA, Stephen, (eds.) Contemporary Media Stylistics. Contemporary Studies in Linguistics . London, Bloomsbury. (In Press)

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The leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is known for his ‘straight talking, honest politics’ (indeed, this was the slogan for his first leadership campaign). This chapter examines the rhetorical construction of authenticity in three videos taken from his official YouTube channel. Some journalists (e.g. Toynbee, 2016) have suggested that the socialist politician’s leadership of the party is symptomatic of the new ‘post-truth’ politics, a political culture in which the rhetorical appeals from ethos and pathos trump those from logos (Browse, 2017: 168). Scholars have pointed to the effect of online media in accelerating this recalibration of what constitutes legitimate argument (Harsin, 2015). This chapter argues that while the term ‘post-truth’ does capture a shift in the kinds of legitimacy claims made by contemporary politicians, it does not adequately explain their causes. Here, they are instead accounted for within the theoretical framework of ‘metamodernism’, which describes the renewed emphasis on “depth” and authenticity in the cultural and political sphere resulting from the economic, political and environmental crises of the 2000s (see van den Akker et al, 2017). Using critical stylistics (Jeffries, 2010) in combination with Chatman’s (1990) notion of the ‘cinematic narrator’, the analyses investigate how the Labour leader and his party’s appeal to authenticity are styled in the videos. Three strategies are identified – Corbyn’s use of populist rhetoric, his allocentric curation of “ordinary” people’s experiences, and the curation of his ethos by others – and these are linked to the renewed sense of historicity, depth and affect that characterise metamodernity. The chapter therefore offers a critical stylistic reading of the socialist politician’s performance of authenticity which is situated with respect to the contemporary metamodern political and media context.

Item Type: Book Section
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2019 10:14
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 22:00

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