Speaker Series 2023 March 10th

Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation & Rhetoric along with the PhD in Argumentation Studies at the University of Windsor invite you to a talk by

Jianfeng Wang, AS PhD Candidate

The Rhetoric of Collective Ethos in Election Denialism

Abstract: No other words better capture the polarized essence of contemporary American partisan politics than “election denialism,” which is the most symptomatic catchphrase of extremism in American political argumentation. Election denialism, as a form of extremism in political argumentation that aims for a change of the status quo by overthrowing the American election systems, could date as far back as to the founding periods of the United States more than 250 years ago. In terms of argumentation schemes, one of the most frequent patterns of argument appealed to could be argument from collective ethos or collective identity, as will be discussed in the case of Kari Lake, the 2022 Republican gubernatorial candidate for the state of Arizona. Argument from collective ethos (Charland 1987/2001; Amossy 2001/2022; Wang 2020), as a contemporary advance in the studies of ethotic arguments originating from the Aristotelian conceptualization of ethos as one of the three means of persuasion in his Rhetoric (Aristotle 2007; Brinton1984), remains to be further developed in at least two aspects: How does a collective ethos come into being? How does the discursive action of appealing to collective ethos or identity impact the receptivity of an argumentative message? In addressing these questions, I suggest three perspectives in this talk to look at the rhetorical strategies employed in the right-wing extremist argumentation by dwelling on the Kari Lake case: her ethos as one of the most vocal supporters for Trumpism, political ads as means of modification of the audience’s cognitive environment, and political slogans as memes of reason in appealing to the audience’s emotional state (Walton 1992/1999; Tindale 2017). To conclude, I propose that election denialism could be the major force dividing the US political landscape; election deniers unanimously appeal to pathos in the election propaganda and argument from (narrow and broad) collective identity could be among the most popular argumentation schemes in election denialism.


Friday, March 10, 2023

3:00 pm

Chrysler Hall North, 1163