Power Talk: Anglo-American Political Rhetoric since 1940 (HIH3506)

StaffProfessor Richard Toye - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesNormally 15 credits in History at level 1 or 2
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module explores developments in political language in Britain and the USA since 1940. It shows how ideological shifts have been mirrored by changes in political rhetoric, and investigates how technology has affected political communication. Considering a variety of historical contexts, it examines how language has been used to construct political identity, focussing on key figures such as Churchill, Thatcher, Blair, John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush as well as on themes such as the Cold War, 'affluence' and the War on Terror. Using original film and recordings where possible, students will learn how to perform rhetorical analysis and to recognise a variety of persuasive techniques. They will also been encouraged to reflect on their own rhetorical practice in the writing of their essays.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. A detailed knowledge of the uses of political language during the period, together with a very close knowledge of the areas selected for essay and presentation work
  • 2. The ability to recognise different aspects of rhetoric and to show sensitivity to historical and national context

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. An ability to analyse the key developments in a complex and unfamiliar political and social environment
  • 4. An ability to understand and deploy correct terminology in a comprehensible manner
  • 5. An ability to handle different approaches to history in a contested area

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. A capacity for independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion
  • 7. An ability to digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 8. An ability to present arguments orally, and to work in a group

Syllabus plan

The lectures will deal with broad themes in political rhetoric, for example: rhetorical methodology, the rhetoric of economic policy, politics and memory, and the language of the war on terror. Seminars will examine and deconstruct key texts from central political figures. There will also be time for students to discuss how they can deploy the techniques of persuasion that they have studied in their own essays and presentations.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities11Lectures (11x1hr)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities11Seminars (11x2hr)
Guided independent study267Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Better of two essay marks252 x 2000 words1-9Verbal and written
Group presentation2530-40 minutes1-9Verbal and written
Unseen Examination502 questions in 2 hours1-9Written

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Stephen Poole, Unspeak: Words Are Weapons (Abacus, 2007)
H.L. Stewart, Sir Winston Churchill as writer and speaker (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1954)
Jeffrey Tulis, The Rhetorical Presidency (Princeton University Press, 1987)
Jamie Whyte, A Load of Blair (Corvo Books, 2005)

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?