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Towards a political actio
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.
2013 (English)In: Multimodal Communication in Political Speech. Shaping Minds and Social Action: International Workshop, Political Speech 2010, Rome, Italy, November 10-12, 2010, Revised Selected Papers / [ed] Isabella Poggi, Francesca D´Errico, Laura Vincze, Alessandro Vinciarelli, Springer Publishing Company, 2013, p. 30-38Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Based on a rhetorical, cognitive and contextual view of nonverbal communication (cf. Kjeldsen 2007, e.g. nonverbal resources of rhetoric, Gelang 2008) I will examine the ethos of politicians and the argumentative dimensions of the nonverbal communication of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their contest for the 2008 American Democratic presidential nomination.

Actio was an essential part of rhetorical training from the classical period with Aristotle, Quintilian and Cicero setting the standard. Today nonverbal communication concerns a variety of modalities such as facial expressions, hand-gestures, movements, postures and the use of voice. In this articel, I will refer to these nonverbal modalities rhetorically performed in public speaking as actio.

Unlike rhetoricians from ancient time, I am not only interested in what a speaker does (for instance nodding her head) but especially how she is doing it (nodding eagerly or hesitantly). The way a gesture is performed is at least as important for its rhetorical impact and argumentative dimensions as the gesture chosen. I refer to the performance as actio-qualities meaning the aspects of actio that create the nuances, and make actio appear with variation (Gelang 2008). In judging the how of actio, I distinguish between energy, dynamism and tempo in nonverbal communication. Energy concerns flow, intensity and focus; dynamism concerns variations, and tempo concerns flow, speed and timing (Gelang 2008). A wide range of studies suggests that nonverbal communication affects the audience in their liking or disliking of different debaters/leaders (Sullivan & Masters 1988, Atkinson 1988, Bucy 2000, 2003, Bucy & Bradley 2004). Some research points at energy as an especially important factor in nonverbal communication (McCroskey 2001, Mehrabaian 1972, Babad et al. 2004). One study of 37 television debates concludes that speakers winning the debates were characterized by modulated voice, energetic articulation, intense gaze, energetic posture, eager gesticulations and firm, directive gestures (Jørgensen et al 1994, 1998).

I will relate what I have found concerning actio-qualities to two nonverbal rhetorical argumentative strategies: enacted actio and restrained actio.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Publishing Company, 2013. p. 30-38
Series
Lecture Notes in Computer Sience ; 7688
Keywords [en]
rhetoric, nonverbal communication, cognitive linguistics, ethnography
National Category
Humanities
Research subject
Rhetoric
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-32883DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-41545-6_3ISBN: 978-3-642-41544-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-32883DiVA, id: diva2:682525
Conference
International Workshop, Political Speech 2010, Rome, Italy, November 10-12, 2010
Available from: 2013-12-27 Created: 2013-12-27 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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Gelang, Marie

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