2R Doing Discourse Analysis: Politics, Subjectivity & Policy
David Howarth, Aletta Norval, University of Essex
22 July - 2 August (two week course / 35 hrs)
THIS COURSE IS NOW FULLY BOOKED AND A WAITING LIST IS IN OPERATION
This course introduces and develops the basic assumptions, concepts and logics of discourse theory by relating them to more mainstream approaches to social and political analysis. It also places discourse theory in relation to other interpretive and linguistic methods of social research. The basic argument of discourse theory is that meaning, subjectivity, and agency are constructed within relational structures that are shaped and re-shaped by political struggles. The course examines the key concepts of discourse, hegemony, antagonism, performativity and subjectivity with particular reference to the work of Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault, and Slavoj Zizek, as well as related thinkers such as J.L. Austin, Judith Butler, and Quentin Skinner. The approach builds upon the structuralist and poststructuralist traditions – e.g. Ferdinand Saussure, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Rancière – and is developed by critically engaging with theorists like Anthony Giddens, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, Pierre Bourdieu, and others.
The course thus aims to show how discourse theory can deconstruct and rethink partial understandings of structure/agency, power/authority, identity/difference, subject/object, the social/political, and so forth. But it also provides the theoretical resources to understand and explain empirical phenomena such nationalism, sexism, and racism. Finally, the course draws out the political implications of discourse theory for our understandings of democracy, citizenship, and ethics.
Discussion of Participant’s Research Projects
During the course we devote time to discuss the research projects of individual participants. Participants should send a summary of their projects (max. 1500 words) as well as questions they would like to discuss to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com no later than a week before the start of the course..
For participants to explore and acquire the basic assumptions, concepts and logics of poststructuralist discourse theory, and then to explore its implications for conducting social and political analysis and analyzing policy discourses..
At the end of the course, participants:
• will be conversant with major literatures and debates in the field of discourse analysis;
• will have acquired a solid grounding in discourse theoretical approaches to social and political analysis and critique;
• will be able to design a research project in this field;
• will be trained in the theoretical and methodological considerations arising in this area;
• will finish with a keen sense of the critical role that discourse plays both in theory and in social and political practice.
There are no specific course requirements, but it would be helpful for students to have some knowledge of Marxist theory and other basic social science theories.
Please ensure that you have access to a copy of the following texts, which covers the key issues addressed in the course:
Howarth, D. 2000. Discourse. Open University Press.
Glynos, J. and D. Howarth. 2007. Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Political Theory. Routledge.
Norval, A. 2007. Aversive Democracy. Cambridge.
Representative Background Reading
Torfing, J. 1999. New Theories of Discourse: Laclau, Mouffe, and Zizek. Blackwell.
Laclau, E., and Mouffe, C. 1987. ‘Post-Marxism without Apologies’, New Left Review 166: 79-106.
Laclau, E. 2005. On Populist Reason. Verso.
Butler, Judith, J. Butler, 1997. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative, Chapter 1. New York: Routledge.
Norval, Aletta J. ‘”Writing a name in the sky”: Rancière, Cavell and the possibility of egalitarian inscription’, American Political Science Review (November 2012), pp. 1-17.
Howarth, D. and Torfing, J. (eds) 2005. Discourse Theory in European Politics. Palgrave.
Žižek, S. 1989. The Sublime Object of Ideology. Verso.