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On our last episode, Professor John Oddo cited Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin in asserting: “When you speak you do not break the eternal silence of the universe. You are not the biblical Adam who is naming and categorizing reality in the virgin world. You are always taking words that taste of prior contexts.”

This approach to language as dialogical is the subject of today’s re:blurb. We break down what dialogicality means, how it’s distinct from other theories of language, and how we can use it to productively analyze texts for their incorporation and reshaping of other voices, as well as the confidence of their claims.

We offer an analysis of a strikingly dialogical political event: legendary actor-director (and proud conservative) Clint Eastwood’s speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention. In the speech, Eastwood constructs a dialogue with an empty chair intended to represent then-President Barack Obama. Eastwood’s usage of quotes, references, modality, bare assertions, and assumptions all suggest that he was supremely confident in his definition of the problem in America in 2012 -- Obama-style liberalism -- but remarkably reluctant about Mitt Romney as a particular solution. As we argue, this may have influenced conservative rhetoric up to the present day.

Text Analyzed:

Transcript: Clint Eastwood's Convention Remarks

Works / Concepts Referenced in This Episode:

De Saussure, F. (1989). Cours de linguistique générale: Édition critique (Vol. 1). Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.

Bakhtin, M. (1934). Discourse in the Novel. Literary theory: An anthology, 2, 674-685.

Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. Psychology Press.

Eastwood, C. (1983). Sudden Impact. Warner Bros. [“Make My Day” scene.]

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