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. 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. 2/11 | 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. 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