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Title: The stereotype of Italianness in the rhetoric of Matteo Renzi : a multimodal analysis of his talks delivered in English
Author: Reggi, Valeria
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 5790
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The study investigates the discursive strategies that the Italian ex-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi used to construct a stereotypical representation of the nation in his institutional talks in English. It focuses on the discrepancies between Renzi's claim to radical discontinuity with the past and the commonplace view of Italy he promoted in second-language communication. In particular, the study analyses Renzi's use of national stereotypes and references to Italian culture with the ultimate purpose of unveiling its implied subtexts. The investigation is grounded on two assumptions. First, language expresses the system of values and beliefs of the speaker, thus constructing a representation of the subject discussed. Second, since the processes of encoding and decoding are determined by belief systems, meaning is the outcome of cultural and ideological negotiation between the producer and the receiver. All communication, therefore, is a process of translation. The study contributes to filling a gap in existing research in intercultural communication in an institutional context. Whereas most research investigates cultural mediation with reference to migrant communities, the way the identity of a country's representative is constructed in second-language production has so far attracted little or no attention at all. Moreover, since Renzi frequently improvised and relied on very limited linguistic mediation, the study aims to foreground the implied meanings and the ultimate purpose of his discursive choices. As power is enacted in discourse, the investigation of systematic contradictions and inconsistencies is of paramount importance to foreground what type of articulation of polical practices is being carried out in discourse. For the purpose of the study two videos of speeches addressed to 'lay' audiences are analysed focusing on implicit and explicit stereotypes. Drawing upon Critical Discourse Analysis, the research is conceived as a pilot study. It expands Jeremy Munday's model for evaluation in translation through a rigorous application of James R. Martin and Peter White's methods from Appraisal Theory and Paul Chilton's Deictic Space Theory to foreground the evaluative stance and positioning of the speaker while also testing some integrations. First, the model is applied to second-language production instead of inter-language translations. Second, it is complemented with a multimodal analysis of implicit cognitive resources such as clichés and culture-specific nonverbal language. Third, both methods that are included in the model are fully integrated: they are put in a sequence and the data from the first one (appraisal analysis) are used for the second type of analysis (deictic positioning), so both methods contribute to the outcome of research. The study complies with quality criteria for research, since all data are made available and analyses are presented by means of tables and charts, which ensure that the outcomes are evidence-based, replicable and transferrable. The interpretations of the data provide clear indications that Munday's model is a flexible tool to foreground and analyse implied stereotypes and references to cultural traditions as they are conveyed by both verbal and nonverbal language. At the same time, the analysis conducted using this model outlines the stance of the speaker with a methodological rigour. While appraisal analysis reveals the complex interplay in Renzi's rhetoric of implicit and explicit commonplaces and references to traditional Italian culture, deictic positioning foregrounds ambiguities and inconsistencies in his stance. Indeed, while apparently leading the country to modernisation, Renzi carefully constructed - and embodied - the prototype of the traditional Italian, and appealed to the emotions and feelings of his audience to naturalise the myth of the nation.
Supervisor: Federici, F. M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available