Theory and Practice of 
Persuasion

Course Unit Code: Б3ДВ2/Б3ДВ6

Type of course unit: optional

Level of course unit: first

Year of study: 3 year

Semester when course unit is delivered: 5/6 semester

Number of ECTS credits allocated: 3 ECTS

Name of lecturer(s): Evgeni Molodychenko; Ekaterina Mikhailovskaya

Learning outcomes of the course unit: Building competence in theory and practice of persuasion. This includes building the expertise in psychological, cognitive and linguistic mechanisms underlying the persuasion process, building competence in both producing persuasive messages and identifying such messages in various texts (advertising, PR etc.) and thus acquiring the skill of withstanding manipulation if it can be viewed as aimed against the conscious will and interest of the recipient. Building competence in conversational reframing, directly applicable in everyday contexts.

Mode of delivery: face-to-face, distance learning is also possible

Prerequisites and co-requisites: general English language requirements for students of language faculties, some theoretical background in linguistics

Recommended optional program components: N/A

Course contents:

This course will provide students with basic theoretical background and build practical skills in analyzing and producing persuasive text and talk. The theoretical part draws upon current tenets of behavioral psychology, cognitive psychology, neuro-linguistic programming, cognitive linguistics, linguistic pragmatics and rhetoric.

To understand the underlying mechanisms of persuasion and manipulation the course will include such sub-topics as attitude change and cognitive models formation. The basic emphasis will be placed on how specific language and grammar choices in texts influence such change and formation on the part of the listener.

The course includes an overview and in-depth study of various language and grammar means, speech moves and strategies used in persuasive texts. The specifics of their usage will be illustrated through analysis of texts which are traditionally associated with persuasion and manipulation, such as advertising, political rhetoric, PR etc. Students will also be taught to use these various tools and strategies in putting together persuasive texts of their own.

Part of building competence in everyday persuasion is made up of classes on conversational reframing. Conversational Reframing is a part of Neuro-Linguistic Programming tools and is used to conversationally transform meanings and influence oneself and others in an enhancing way. The skills are build through several practical classes preceded by necessary theory from Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Neurosemantics in particular.

Recommended or required reading:

  1. Bandler, R., Grinder J. The Structure of Magic Volume I. Science and Behavior Books, Inc. Palo Alto, California, 1975 – 225 p.
  2. Chang, G.C., Mehan, H.B. Why we must attack Iraq: Bush reasoning practices and argumentation system. In Discourse & Society.Vol. 19(4). Sage Publications, 2008. – Pp. 453–482.
  3. Dunmire, P.L. Preempting the future: Rhetoric and ideology of the future in political discourse. In Discourse & Society. Vol. 16(4). Sage Publications, 2005. – Pp. 481-513.
  4. · Dunmire, P.L. ‘9/11 changed everything’: an intertextual analysis of the Bush Doctrine. In Discourse & Society. Vol. 20(2). Sage Publications, 2009. – Pp. 195-222.
  5. Dillard, J.P., Pfau, M. (Eds.). The Persuasion Handbook: developments in theory and practice. Sage Publications, 2002. – 874 p.
  6. Dilts, R.B. Sleight of Mouth. The Magic of Conversational Belief Change. Capitola, CA: Meta Publications, 1999. – 330 p.
  7. Ferrari, F. Metaphor at work in the analysis of political discourse: investigating a ‘preventive war’ persuasion strategy. In Discourse & Society. Vol. 18(5). Sage Publications, 2007. – Pp. 603-625.
  8. Hall, M.L., Bodenhamer B. Mind-Lines: Lines for Changing Minds. Clifton, CO: NSP: Neuro-Semantics Publications, 2010. – 355 p.
  9. Jørgensen, M., Phillips, L. Discourse Analysis as Theory and Method, SAGE, 2002. URL: http://www.scribd.com/doc/36677283/Discourse-Analysis-as-Theory-and-Method
  10. Lakoff, G. Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont, 2004. – 144 p.
  11. Lakoff, G., Johnson, M. Metaphors we live by. The University of Chicago press, 2003. – 276 p.
  12. Lazar, A, Lazar, M. M. The discourse of the New World Order: ‘out-casting’ the double face of threat. In Discourse & Society. Vol. 15(2-3). Sage Publications, 2004. – Pp. 223-242.
  13. Leuder, I., Marsland, V., Nekvapil, J. On membership categorization: ‘us’, ‘them’ and ‘doing violence’ in political discourse. In Discourse & Society 15(2-3). Sage Publications, 2004. – Pp. 243-266.
  14. Miller, G. R. On Being Persuaded: Some Basic Distinctions. In James Price Dillard and Michael Pfau (Eds.), The Persuasion Handbook: Developments in Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002. – Pp. 3-16.
  15. Van Dijk, T.A. Discourse and Manipulation. In Discourse & Society Vol. 17(2). Sage Publications, 2006. – Pp. 359-383.
  16. Van Dijk, T.A. Discourse semantics and ideology. In Discourse & Society. Vol. 6(2). Sage Publications, 1995. – Pp. 243-289.
  17. Van Eemeren, F. H., Houtlosser, P. Strategic Maneuvering in Argumentative Discourse. In Discourse Studies. Vol. 1(4). Sage Publications, 1999. – Pp. 479-497.
  18. Van Leeuwen, T., Wodak, R. Legitimizing Immigration Control: A Discourse-Historical Analysis. In Discourse Studies. Vol. 1(1). Sage Publications, 1999. – Pp. 83-118.
  19. Van Dijk, T.A. Political Discourse and Racism. In S.H. Riggins (Ed.), The Language and Politics of Exclusion. Others in Discourse. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1997 (b). – Pp. 31-64.
  20. Vostrikova, I.Y. Neo-rhetoric and Stylistic Analysis of American Oratory Texts: Учебное пособие. – СПб.: Изд-во СПбГУЭФ, 2009. – 56 с.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods:

The course is designed for class-room teaching. The theoretical part is presented in the form of lectures; practical skills are built through group and individual work at seminars with tutoring from responsible teacher. The course can be also tweaked to be delivered online distant teaching with online lectures and manual for self-studying situations and text analysis.

Assessment methods and criteria: Students academic performance will be assessed through presence in class and participation in discussions (30%), accomplishing a written test on theoretical knowledge (35%) and writing a final text analysis (35%).

Language of instruction: English

Work placements: N/A