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Ed Schiappa is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the U of M.

U of M expert available to comment on political rhetoric and Tucson shooting tragedy

January 10, 2011

In the wake of the Tucson shooting tragedy, the nation's focus has turned to the role of political rhetoric. What is political rhetoric and what is its connection to violent action? A University of Minnesota political communication expert who can comment on rhetoric and acts of violence is:

Edward Schiappa, professor, Department of Communication Studies, College of Liberal Arts

Schiappa says for the first time in a long time, the word "rhetoric" is being used a lot in discussions of the context of political discourse in the wake of the Tucson shooting.

"The point is that political rhetoric does matter," Schiappa says. "The metaphors that guide our thinking do increase the probability of related behavior."

Schiappa adds that conservatives do not have a monopoly on such language, and one can find calls for revolution coming from the extreme left in the 1960s. "But today the pendulum has swung the other way."

At the height of the 2008 presidential campaign, Schiappa issued statements analyzing the link between the political discourses and an increase in threats against then-candidate Obama. He believes we are seeing a similar escalation of rhetoric and the threat of violence now.

Schiappa conducts research in argumentation, classical rhetoric, media influence and contemporary rhetorical theory. His current research explores the scope and function of rhetorical studies, including the relationship between rhetorical theory and critical media studies.

To interview Schiappa, contact Patty Mattern at (612) 624-2801 or mattern@umn.edu; or Jeff Falk at (612) 626-1720 or jfalk@umn.edu.

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit umn.edu/news. Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: College of Liberal Arts

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