A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of ‘Brexit’: Flagging the Nation in Political Cartoons
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AbstractThe rhetorical investigation of multimodality in political discourse is a growing concern for discursive researchers adopting critical approaches. The study of political cartoons is a prime example of how both visual and linguistic meaning can be constructed and interpreted based on its prevailing social, cultural and political settings. Adopting a multimodal critical discourse analysis (MCDA) approach, this chapter further pursues the study of multimodality in political communication by examining a corpus of political cartoons—drawn from the UK and beyond—concerned with the UK’s Referendum on membership of the European Union and the subsequent vote to leave in 2016. We analyse how the rhetoric of these cartoons flags the construction of national identity, otherness and belonging, lending themselves to condensed ideological messages seeking to frame Brexit. It is argued such cartoons can be seen as micro-instances of the anchoring of Brexit as a self-referential political divide defined by oppositional discourses and their accompanying intellectual legacy. A phenomenon, which, we contend, is richly explained by the rhetorical communication of the visual alongside the linguistic. We conclude the chapter by reflecting on how MCDA can assist our understanding of political communication and contribute to the critical tradition of discursive psychological work.
CitationLennon, H., & Kilby, L. (2021). 'A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of ‘Brexit’: Flagging the Nation in Political Cartoons.' In Demasi, M., Burke, S., Tileaga, C. (Eds.). ‘Palgrave studies in discursive psychology: Political Communication Discursive Perspectives’. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 115-146.