DiscourseNet Collaborative Working Paper Series



What is DN CWPS?

The DiscourseNet Collaborative Working Paper Series (DN CWPS) reflects ongoing research activity at the intersection of language and society in an interdisciplinary field of discourse studies. Prolonging the activities and publications of DiscourseNet, it welcomes contributions which actively engage in a dialogue across different theories of discourse, disciplines, topics, methods and methodologies. All contributions to the DN CWPS are work in progress. The DN CWPS offers an environment for an open discussion of the drafts, reports or presentations. For further information on the DN CWPS’ concept and author information visit: https://discourseanalysis.net/dncwps/authors.


no. 6 | November 2021
Kseniia Semykina: The Crimean Conflict on Russian and Ukrainian TV: A Discourse-Theoretical Approach (PDF)
The paper explores discourses on Russian and Ukrainian television related to the Crimean conflict of 2014. Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory serves as a theoretical framework of the study. The study contributes to academic debates on two levels: on a substantive level, it provides insights into the logic of the Crimean conflict; on the methodological level, it suggests the method of corpus-assisted semantic network analysis for empirical analysis in discourse-theoretical studies. News reports devoted to events in Crimea on a Russian TV channel Channel 1 and a Ukrainian TV channel Inter, which were broadcasted from 28.02.2014 to 16.03.2014 served as empirical data for the study. In total, 390 news reports, accounting to 19 hours and 20 minutes of coverage, were analyzed. The analysis showed that the Russian channel’s discourse emphasized decision-making processes in Crimea, Crimean residents and Russian-speaking population of Ukraine, as well as Ukraine’s relations with the West. Ukrainian channel’s discourse emphasized military actions in Crimea and Russia’s involvement in the events in the region. Both sides’ interpretations were based on hegemonic discursive constructions: it was anti-Westernism for the Russian discourse, and ‘Russia as a potential enemy’ for the Ukrainian discourse. At the methodological level, the method of corpus-assisted semantic network analysis proved useful for empirical research in a discourse-theoretical study. It allowed to analyze an extensive corpus of texts and make conclusions about prominent patterns in discourses based on parameters of semantic networks.
Keywords: discourse theory, semantic network analysis, Crimea, Russia, Ukraine


no. 2 | May 2020 – October 2020

Special Issue: Discourse Studies Essays on the Corona-Crisis

The corona crisis is a discursive phenomenon. Institutions, journalists, politicians, medical professionals, economists and layman have to make sense out of corona. The meaning of corona is negotiated everyday in the different arenas of language production. This special issue seeks to collect ideas, reflections and discussions on the multiple aspects of the ongoing corona crisis from a discourse analytical and discourse theoretical point of view.

If you would like to contribute a short paper, please check the special issue’s call for papers.

    no. 2/15 | August 2021
    Giulia Montanari: A global and/or national crisis. A global and/or national crisis: Cartographic imagery during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico (PDF)
    Since it became obvious that the new Coronavirus would come to be dispersed worldwide, the number of cartographic materials published exploded. Archives such as the US-American Library of Congress had to deal with an enormous number of new acquisitions (Bliss 2020), while the general public is confronted on a daily basis with journalistic maps that illustrate the current dispersion of the COVID-19 disease – on a national and global level. Those maps are informing our visual knowledge of the pandemic and present it as a global crisis that is at the same time being dealt with nationally. Aim of this contribution is to discuss from the point of view of sociology of knowledge and critical cartography the way in which these maps communicate an understanding of the pandemic as a crisis that affects national territories as well as the world in different ways spatially and therefore contribute to a broadly shared knowledge of uneven territories (within countries and internationally). At the same time, they are reproducing a visual interpretative pattern that sees nations as the ones hit by the virus and the institutional unity to act. Empirical examples for the discussion are maps published in Mexican newspapers. Keywords: visual discourse, critical cartography, pandemic maps, territorial nation state

    no. 2/14 | April 2021
    Shaimaa El Naggar: ‘Don’t touch your face, avoid it friends’. The representation of coronavirus in YouTube songs – the case study of ‘le cumbia del coronavirus’ (PDF)
    The aim of this paper is to contribute to the discussion about the global discourses of the coronavirus pandemic (cf. Maeße 2020 and Kremer 2020 in this Special Issue, Adler 2021 and Wodak 2021). It turns attention to popular culture, more specifically YouTube and sheds light on an interesting phenomenon in which songs about the coronavirus are mediated on YouTube, achieving millions of hits. Using Critical Discourse Studies as an approach, combined with insights from media and literacy studies (cf. Wodak 2018 and Tolson 2010), this paper explores the representation of the coronavirus in the song ‘le cumbia del coronavirus’, using it as a case study. It will show how various layers of contexts interact in the YouTube song to create a light-hearted and a humorous representation of the coronavirus, which contrasts with a more serious and a menacing representation of the coronavirus in the press and government discourse as a ‘war’ or a ‘tsunami’ (cf. Nikolopoulou and Psyllakou 2020: 2, and Wodak 2021: 15). In addition, the analysis of users’ comments suggests that – to some users – the song offered a space for cultural contact and/or imagining a global audience.
    Keywords: coronavirus, language and new media, The Discourse Historical Approach, multimodal analysis, literacy practices on YouTube

    no. 2/13 | November 2020
    Ophira Gamliel: COVID-19 Transformation. Towards a Knowledge-Sharing Platform (PDF)
    The paper addresses the COVID-19 Pandemic as a complex and all-pervasive transformative event with far-reaching implications on the resilience of social-ecological systems to other shocks such as those anticipated by climate change and resource depletion. As transformations induced by disruptions affect the capacity to adapt to systemic shocks, the COVID-19 disruption offers a unique opportunity for qualifying and classifying structural changes in social-ecological systems. As the pandemic-induced transformations are further complicated by fast-spreading “infodemics”, the need for scholars and scientists to improve their communications and public outreach is pressing. However, organizing the scientific knowledge on the COVID-19 transformation is a challenging task, especially given the transdisciplinary approaches required. This paper, therefore, proposes a model for a knowledge-sharing platform for classifying and qualifying COVID-19 transformative changes. The paper approaches the organization of knowledge on transformative responses aligning with research on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. It then proposes to identify functional categories of transformation adapting approaches to event structures, developed in theoretical linguistics.
    Keywords: COVID-19, transformation, event structure, information ontology, climate change, infodemic

    no. 2/12 | October 2020
    Edo Amin: Denying the Curve. Alternative mathematics in the Coronavirus-skeptic discourse in Israel (PDF)
    In early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrity experts rushed to predict its outcome in Israeli media. Their predictions undershot the real spread of the pandemic by one or two orders of magnitude. Media seems to be lenient towards assertions of celebrity experts even if they fly in the face of reality, which raises two observations. First, statements from celebrity experts seem bold and controversial yet typically contain only few provable or refutable hypotheses. Second (and perhaps more significant), apparent errors of celebrity experts could be seen as emanating from values of an alternative worldview. If, in such alternative worldview, their assertions hold ground, it justifies defining them as an alternative mathematics. Consequently, criticism of statements by celebrity experts could be more effective if it ventures beyond numbers and touches on values and worldviews.
    Keywords: COVID-19, infodemiology, alternative facts, lockdown, experts, epistemology, philosophy of science

    no. 2/11 | October 2020
    Mayssa Rekhis & Kseniia Semykina: The preventable tsunami. Experts’ discourses on the mental health crisis-to-come in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF)
    While most knowledge produced by medical experts during the COVID-19 pandemic was related to protecting oneself from catching the virus, a smaller number of experts insisted on the importance of caring for one’s mental health. In this paper we focus on this second discourse. Highlighting the mental health implications of the current pandemic, the discourse of mental health experts predicted a mental health crisis-to-come, unprecedented in its consequences, and accordingly they called for preventive actions from both populations and governments. This discourse produces two subjectivities: the vulnerable subjectivity – framing people as stressed, anxious, and in need of building solidarity – and the responsible subjectivity – calling for the management of information space, taking care of one’s mental health and supporting others. Importantly, this discourse brings to the fore the global trauma and psychological suffering resulting from the corona crisis, which have long been neglected; a suffering which is socially unacceptable and, most importantly, preventable.
    Keywords: discourse, mental health, COVID-19, expert knowledge, trauma, subjectivity

    no. 2/10 | September 2020
    Vângela Vasconcelos & Rosineide Magalhães de Sousa: Quilombolas’ Lives Matter. Speeches and Literacies of Re-Existence amid the Pandemic in Brazil (PDF)
    This paper aims to show how the Quilombola Kalunga Community, in the State of Goiás (Brazil) has faced and adapted to a new reality in the course of the corona crisis. For that, we have as corpus the video “What to do amid the pandemic”, starring a Quilombola undergraduate student who reports social aspects of her community in the pandemic scenario. We use a Critical Discourse Analysis and Netnography approach to reveal the discourse of resistance and re-existence of communities that generally are obscured by the public power and the official media. As a social contribution, we intend to give more visibility to the Quilombolas’ fights to resist the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Keywords: Quilombolas, Critical Discourse Analysis, Netnography, Resistence and Re-existence, COVID-19

    no. 2/9 | August 2020
    Michael Kranert, Paola Attolino, Martina Berrocal, Júlio Antonio Bonatti Santos, Sara Garcia Santamaria, Nancy Henaku, Aimée-Danielle Lezou Koffi, Camilla Marziani, Viktorija Mažeikienė, Dasniel Olivera Pérez, 
Kumaran Rajandran & Aleksandra Salamurović: COVID-19: The World and the Words. Linguistic means and discursive constructions (PDF)
    The present paper aims to explore by which discursive and linguistic means the COVID-19-pandemic as a macro event has been translated into local micro events and to point to similarities and differences by comparing the initial statements by leading political actors from 29 countries across four continents. The comparative analysis is based on the theoretical and methodological framework of the socio-cognitive approach within Critical Discourse Analysis, which focuses on exploring the construction of in-, affiliated and out-groups. In addition, our analysis is informed by argumentation theory and nationalism studies. The results of our analysis suggest that the major consensus has been found in constructing the out-group. In most countries, the virus is conceptualized as the main proponent of the out-group. In contrast, the linguistic and discursive construction of in-groups and the affiliated ones displays greater variation, depending on the prevalent discursive practices and the social context in different countries.
    Keywords: socio-cognitive approach, social actor representation, comparative analysis, political speech, COVID-19

    no. 2/8 | August 2020
    Dominik Kremer: Usage of spatial metaphor in tellings 
of the crisis (PDF)
    This short paper reflects on the use of spatial metaphors and metonyms in the context of discursive binding of the COVID-19 crisis. It shows how the dense use of metaphors and metonyms allows for an efficient but often misleading embodied reasoning of the crisis. I propose that current bindings of the crisis still show strong indications of neglecting behaviour rather than acceptance.
    Keywords: discourse analysis, embodied cognition, image schemata, COVID-19

    no. 2/7 | August 2020
    Aikaterini Nikolopoulou & Elena Psyllakou: The COVID-19 lockdown in Greece. Politicians, experts and public awareness campaigns in search of legitimisation (PDF)
    Having transferred the duty of justifying the measures against COVID-19 to the “experts”, the Greek government reduced the political argument to moralistic imperatives which should determine both people’s behaviour and the state’s policies. Focusing on the Prime Minister’s announcements, the Ministry of Health briefings and the state public awareness campaigns, we explore how the government drew the veil of compliance over the lack of deliberation and accountability.
    Keywords: COVID-19, discourse, politicians, experts, campaigns, lockdown

    no. 2/6 | August 2020
    Júlio Antonio Bonatti Santos: The role of intellectuals in times of a global pandemic: Understanding Noam Chomsky’s political activism (PDF)
    This work aims to analyze the role of intellectuals in times of pandemic, when their discourse was assumed as a counterbalance to the hegemony of experts. It takes as a case study several exemplar speeches by Noam Chomsky, American linguist and political activist, which were produced since the beginning of March 2020 regarding the COVID-19. We will try to discuss that what marks Chomsky’s discourse is related to the ethos (Maingueneau, 2020) of an “intellectual engagement” (Bourdieu, 2003). In other words, Chomsky assumes himself as a spokesman of the Humanity, concerned with “bigger problems”: the pandemic cannot be undermined, but the global warming and the economic crisis created by the debacle of neoliberalism, as well as nuclear war menaces, are much greater threats to human species survival and the maintenance of the planet.
    Keywords: Noam Chomsky, intellectual engagement, pandemic, ethos, COVID-19

    no. 2/5 | July 2020
    Ariella Lahav: The COVID-19 Pandemic as Deus-Ex-Machina on the Israeli Political Stage? The Early Pandemic Speeches of Benjamin Netanyahu (PDF)
    This working paper analyzes the early speeches of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, in the context of Israel’s unique political crisis at the time the pandemic broke. It further suggests that Netanyahu’s rhetoric was aimed at rebuilding his ethos as the only leader capable of managing a crisis of such magnitude, hence, of leading the country, and at convincing his political rival to join a so called “emergency unity government”.
    Keywords: COVID-19, ethos, rhetorical tools, war metaphors, legitimacy, Netanyahu

    no. 2/4 | July 2020
    Jaime de Souza Júnior: The transmediatisation of COVID-19 in Brazil: Theoretical reflexions on the communication of the pandemic across media spaces to make visible (bio-/geo-)political repertoires of (re-)interpretation (PDF)
    In this working paper, I reflect on the centrality of media practices to propose a theoretical perspective that can contribute to analyse how the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is being framed and communicated in Brazil across different media spaces. After presenting these preliminary reflexions and their related theoretical considerations, I suggest some possible directions to discuss how the COVID-19 virus and elements that relate to the abovementioned crisis can be understood in a transmedia process of circulation.
    Keywords: Pandemic frames, The transmedia order of discourse, Biopolitics, Geopolitics, Trump, Bolsonaro

    no. 2/3 | July 2020
    Shara L. C. Lopes & Pedro H. S. Queiroz: Disrupting the media discourse: An analysis of the announcement of the Brazilian media consortium during the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF)
    This work analyzes excerpts from a media article in which Brazilian media companies announced their participation in the formation of a consortium motivated by the need to disclose real data on the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. We used French discourse analysis in order to investigate how memory and preconstruct function in the underlying interdiscourse of this text. We conclude that there is a structural disruption of the discursive order, which is articulated by preconstructs such as “the role of journalism”, “the common good” and “the decision”. Furthermore, we verified that the discursive memory built around the imaginary of what the media discourse is about and how it should function is activated at the same time that it is forgotten in a speech of one of the consortium members.
    Keywords: media discourse, preconstruct, discursive memory, COVID-19

    no. 2/2 | June 2020
    Gerardo Costabile Nicoletta: The clash of technocracies. The pandemic’s episteme of the Italian Red Zone (PDF)
    This contribution analyses different technocratic discourses emergent in the context of the Italian management of the coronavirus pandemic. It suggests that each of these discourses share a common conception of the population as irresponsible and potentially dangerous. The main unintentional outcome of such common epistemic terrain is the empowerment and the enforcement of administrative and police practices over territories and populations. Through this discussion, the paper sets out to highlight a paternalistic appeal which reconstitutes a ‘responsible subject’ for the post-covid era.
    Keywords: expert discourse, episteme, technocracy, global pandemic, EU discourse

    no. 2/1 | May 2020
    Jens Maesse: “New normality”: the political unconscious of corona discourse and global rearrangements (PDF)
    The short paper reflects on the social reactions of various countries to the corona pandemic. The slogan “new normality” will be interpreted as a discursive positioning of various countries that may reflect their position in upcoming global order. The paper expects a further disintegration of the former “global West” and a rise of a tripolar structure lead by the Asian region.
    Keywords: New Normality, Economic Sociology, Economic Expert Discourse


no. 5 | March 2021
Jan Zienkowski: Propaganda and/or Ideology in Critical Discourse Studies: Historical, epistemological and ontological tensions and challenges for thinking politics and the political (PDF)
This paper asks whether and how the concept of propaganda can be understood and enriched for discourse studies (Oddo, 2018). The concept of propaganda has been seminal to media and communication studies and is regaining popularity in an age of social media where notions of ‘activism’ and ‘propaganda’ get problematized all over again (Benkler et al., 2018; Herman, 2000; Jowett & O’Donnell, 2015; Pedro-Carañana, Broudy, & Klaehn 2018). Traditionally, discourse scholars have preferred theories of ideology, hegemony and power over theories of ‘propaganda’ (Angermuller, Maingueneau, & Wodak, 2014; Wodak, 2013). In this paper I provide some historical, ideological, epistemological and ontological explanations for this situation. If the notion of propaganda is to be of added value to critical discourse studies, it has to be (re)conceptualized and (re)articulated with(in) existing discourse theories. Many discourse scholars have gone through great lengths to problematize intentional modes of communication and actor-centered approaches to meaning. If ‘propaganda’ is to make sense in CDS, its relation to discourse, reflexivity, ideology and/or hegemony therefore needs to be considered carefully. I will clarify this point by articulating the notion of propaganda with(in) Essex style discourse theory (Glynos and Howarth, 2007; Torfing, 1999). I argue for a notion of propaganda that refers to democratic and anti-democratic forms of discursive practice that aim to introduce, reproduce or change the articulatory practice(s) and discourse(s) of social groups or networks with some degree of reflexivity. I thus explore the challenges that ‘propaganda’ poses for thinking politics and the political in discourse studies.
Keywords: propaganda studies, ideology, hegemony, critical discourse studies, discourse theory, reflexivity, CDA


no. 4 | February 2021
David Adler: „Infektionstreiber“ im Corona-Diskurs: Der diskursive Kampf um die Lasten der Pandemiebekämpfung | “Infection drivers” in the corona discourse: discursive struggles over questions of responsibility of tackling the pandemic (PDF)
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic the notion of “infection drivers” (Infektionstreiber) has gained currency in German discourse on school closings. This paper traces its discursive origins and its typical usage, using two twitter-corpora. The analysis indicates that the term is not so much used to name driving forces in the dynamics of the pandemic, but to exempt specific areas of society from the responsibility of spreading the virus, thereby criticising the measures and restrictions imposed upon it. Infektionstreiber thus becomes a discursive strategy to negotiate questions of who carries the responsibilities for the pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19, education, Twitter, corpus linguistics, polyphony, responsibility


no. 3 | August 2020
Jens Maesse: The discursive political economy of Europe. Hybrid formation of nationalist populism through economics (PDF)
Discourse Studies analyse meaning production as language use in different types of social contexts. This paper project will analyse economically formed structures as institutional contexts for discourse production in Europe (Part I) as well as the use of economic expert discourses for symbolic-imaginary identity formation (Part II) within these contexts. It is split in two parts and takes a discourse-sociological point of view. Part I analyses the contemporary socio-economic emergence of Europeanised fields of discursive identity production. It will be shown how the transformations of institutional contexts (especially since the European expansion since 1990) lead to the construction of a new geography of power, consisting of three different types of regions: first, a couple of booming regions located around the big cities and the Alps-Rhine region; second, a rather heterogeneous group of regions locked down at a lower-medium level of wealth participation; finally, a shrinking and disconnected country side. While Part I will analyse the institutional-economic forces that constitute this socio-discursive field, Part II will show how in these diverse regions discourses take on specific forms. Taking economic expert discourse from Poland as a case study (and comparing it with the AfD and Brexit economic expert discourses), it will be analysed how contradictions and paradoxes emerge between the symbolic-imaginary and the institutional level of European discourse production. The success story of nationalist populists such as PiS in Poland, AfD in East Germany, the Brexit in UK or Orban’s project in Hungary cannot entirely be understood by solely looking at the “national histories”, country’s “political cultures” or “fake news” distributed by populists among “misinformed people”. On the contrary, the paper shows that new nationalist-populist hegemonies in Europe can only emerge within Europeanised fields of identity production as hybrid discourse positions at the intersection between periphery and semi-periphery. Six elements forming a hybrid position will be elaborated in Part I and II.
Keywords: Economic Expert Discourse, European Studies, Studies in Discourse Sociology, Power and Inequality, Social Studies of Economics


no. 1 | December 2018
Juliet Henderson: An innovative approach to teaching the art of critique in writing (PDF)
This paper considers whether and how what is known as ‘the art of critique’ (Foucault 1997) in writing might be taught in the humanities and social sciences. The centrality of this question is based in the idea that education lacks vigour without an understanding of how to play with as well as respect the rules. A practice of playing that generates something new that is beyond ‘use-value’ (Derrida 2006: 201) yet can also be used to signify ‘use-value’. Fundamental to this idea is the question of the ‘agency’ of the subjectivity of the individual. In order to con- ceptualise the dynamics of interrupting the historical traditions of academic writing more closely, Foucault’s notion of ‘care of the self’ and Derrida’s field of analysis, deconstruction, are briefly interrogated. Examples of such dynamics in student writing are then tentatively presented as possible heuristics for indeterminate teaching of the ‘art of critique’.
Keywords: art of critique, agency, subjectivity, transferable skills, academic writing