Evaluative rhetorical strategies in the broadsheet review genre: the case of four British broadsheets

Ierace, Gaia (2019). Evaluative rhetorical strategies in the broadsheet review genre: the case of four British broadsheets. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The thesis investigates rhetorical evaluative strategies in four British Broadsheets: The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent and The Times Literary Supplement. This study views writing in the interpersonal domain where language is shaped by social needs, politeness rules and the notion of appropriacy that is not absolute but mediated by the reading public. Broadsheet reviews come across as highly interactional texts where the voice of the reviewer overlaps with the voice of the reader and the voice of the author of the book. These voices are carefully orchestrated and framed within an argumentative discourse that aims at maintaining non conflictual relationships that respect the public’s Face in the sense that Brown and Levinson (1978) give to the word. However, broadsheet reviewers also fulfil genre expectations that a review be honest and balanced.
A corpus of 72 reviews was coded and analysed, in order to detect the ways in which broadsheet reviewers select certain rhetorical evaluative strategies to judge the book and the work of the author. As these evaluative strategies seem to cluster round the conjunct BUT, and this is a key hub of evaluation in the Broadsheet genre, a database of 111 sentences featuring the conjunct is established. It is found that evaluative strategies clustering round the conjunct BUT are carefully planned by reviewers who distribute them in salient parts of the text. The choice of linguistic resources to judge a book are dictated by interpersonal needs aimed at reducing the Face Threat to authors and readers. Consequently, the Praise and Criticism Pair - that has a huge hedging potential - is often chosen to evaluate the work of authors while Criticism is hardly ever placed at the beginning of the review. Interaction with the readers seems to impact the evaluative patterns that occur in BRs. The clauses before BUT act as a prelude for evaluative acts while the clauses after BUT are the locus where evaluation is presented to the reader. Both the Praise and Criticism Pair and Hedges ensure mitigated evaluative acts that are framed in a cogent line of argumentation which makes them acceptable to readers. The skillful use of hedging allows broadsheet reviewers to be critical towards the Author and Specific Aspects of the book that are the recurring targets of the BUT Node. One of the main claims of this thesis is that broadsheet reviews are argumentative texts where the key organizational principle underpinning discourse is the worry to justify the judgement presented about the book read. This justification is framed within argumentation.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Language and Linguistics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/9307


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