Multimodal rhetoric: Fictive interaction strategies in political discourse

Todd Oakley 1
  • 1 Cognitive Science, Case Western Reserve University, Crawford Hall 6th Floor, Cleveland, USA
Todd Oakley
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  • Cognitive Science, Case Western Reserve University, Crawford Hall 6th Floor, Cleveland, USA
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Abstract

This article explores the role fictive interaction plays in two recent political speeches during the 2012 election year in the United States. The first is actor Clint Eastwood’s keynote address to the Republican National Convention in which he engages in a fictional conversation with President Barack Obama; and the second is by Mark Sanford, former Republican governor of South Carolina and candidate for US Congress who stages a fictive debate with Democratic representative and minority party leader, Nancy Pelosi. Eastwood’s performance was roundly criticized in the media by partisans, pundits, reporters, and analysts across the political spectrum, many of whom openly speculated that the 82-year-old was exhibiting signs of senescence. Sanford’s performance did not receive the publicity of the former but was viewed by voters of South Carolina, and represents a much tighter and effective form of fictive interaction, eventually leading to his election to congress. The factors contributing to the failure of Eastwood’s performance and and those contributing to success of Sanford’s will be the focus of this analysis. Special attention will be paid to the multimodal dimensions of each performance.

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