Paper Title

Critical Hubris: Leftist Media and the Persuasiveness of Conservative Discourse

Location

Room 220, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

Keywords

Public Culture, Conservative Rhetoric, Political Discourse, Ideological Critique

Abstract

Scholars across women’s and gender, Black feminist, critical race, queer, and sexuality studies recognize the importance of countering cissexist, racist, homophobic, and xenophobic imagery and discourses in public and popular culture. Such discourses and imagery are consequential materially to how our bodies and identities are marginalized as “different” or less human. As candidates vie for the Republican presidential nomination, the right’s use of cissexist, racist, homophobic, and xenophobic rhetoric is on display. Critical engagement with conservative discourse to counter its effects on our public and private lives is as important as ever.

This working paper examines leftist media’s practices for intervening in conservative discourse. Slate, Mother Jones, Think Progress, and other leftist outlets frequently analyze conservative rhetoric to expose the right’s manipulation of information. In some cases, leftist media paints conservatives as “crazy” or “insane.” Does this emphasis on conservative reasoning (“crazy” or not) misunderstand or ignore the ideological, affective power of conservative rhetoric? Drawing from rhetorical theory, and the work of theorists including Judith Butler (Precarious Life), Lauren Berlant, and Michael Warner, this paper argues that conservative discourse’s persuasiveness stems not from coherent reasoning, but from its ability to activate audiences’ emotional and ideological commitments.

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Apr 1st, 10:30 AM Apr 1st, 11:45 AM

Critical Hubris: Leftist Media and the Persuasiveness of Conservative Discourse

Room 220, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Scholars across women’s and gender, Black feminist, critical race, queer, and sexuality studies recognize the importance of countering cissexist, racist, homophobic, and xenophobic imagery and discourses in public and popular culture. Such discourses and imagery are consequential materially to how our bodies and identities are marginalized as “different” or less human. As candidates vie for the Republican presidential nomination, the right’s use of cissexist, racist, homophobic, and xenophobic rhetoric is on display. Critical engagement with conservative discourse to counter its effects on our public and private lives is as important as ever.

This working paper examines leftist media’s practices for intervening in conservative discourse. Slate, Mother Jones, Think Progress, and other leftist outlets frequently analyze conservative rhetoric to expose the right’s manipulation of information. In some cases, leftist media paints conservatives as “crazy” or “insane.” Does this emphasis on conservative reasoning (“crazy” or not) misunderstand or ignore the ideological, affective power of conservative rhetoric? Drawing from rhetorical theory, and the work of theorists including Judith Butler (Precarious Life), Lauren Berlant, and Michael Warner, this paper argues that conservative discourse’s persuasiveness stems not from coherent reasoning, but from its ability to activate audiences’ emotional and ideological commitments.