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Alfredian press on the vikings: critical discourse approach to outgroup construction


Timofeeva, Olga (2016). Alfredian press on the vikings: critical discourse approach to outgroup construction. Journal of English Linguistics, 44(3):230-253.

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to investigate discourse strategies of outgroup construction in the Alfredian period (late ninth century), by using critical discourse analysis and testing its relevance for the Anglo-Saxon data. The study focuses on the Viking outgroup and its presentation in the texts of the period. The analysis also tackles earlier and later sources containing the episodes of the first encounter with the unwelcome “Other” to trace typological features of outgroup construction in medieval political discourse. The genres that are taken into account are historical writings and legislation in Anglo-Latin and Old English. It is postulated that the Alfredian texts are commissioned by the political elite—the West Saxon kingship—and produced by the symbolic elite—writers, chroniclers, copyists, the clergy more generally, with the Alfredian circle being reconstructed as a “Community of Practice” with a distinct political, cultural, and discourse agenda. The Viking raids of the period provide a “bid for counter-power,” to which the elites have to react both militarily and ideologically. The ideologies of the Anglo-Saxon elites are analyzed at the discourse level, concentrating on the strategies of outgroup derogation, e.g., criminalization of the Vikings in the chronicles. It is concluded that the chronicles can be analyzed as analogous to modern press, that they were produced and circulated to shape “public opinion” of politically and economically prominent social groups.

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to investigate discourse strategies of outgroup construction in the Alfredian period (late ninth century), by using critical discourse analysis and testing its relevance for the Anglo-Saxon data. The study focuses on the Viking outgroup and its presentation in the texts of the period. The analysis also tackles earlier and later sources containing the episodes of the first encounter with the unwelcome “Other” to trace typological features of outgroup construction in medieval political discourse. The genres that are taken into account are historical writings and legislation in Anglo-Latin and Old English. It is postulated that the Alfredian texts are commissioned by the political elite—the West Saxon kingship—and produced by the symbolic elite—writers, chroniclers, copyists, the clergy more generally, with the Alfredian circle being reconstructed as a “Community of Practice” with a distinct political, cultural, and discourse agenda. The Viking raids of the period provide a “bid for counter-power,” to which the elites have to react both militarily and ideologically. The ideologies of the Anglo-Saxon elites are analyzed at the discourse level, concentrating on the strategies of outgroup derogation, e.g., criminalization of the Vikings in the chronicles. It is concluded that the chronicles can be analyzed as analogous to modern press, that they were produced and circulated to shape “public opinion” of politically and economically prominent social groups.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:11 Oct 2016 14:11
Last Modified:11 Oct 2016 14:11
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:0075-4242
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0075424216654210

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