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Evoking values or doing politics?

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This article analyses the rhetoric of speeches delivered by British politicians at televised national HMD commemorations. Following the recommendation of the Stockholm International Forum, since 2001, Britain has commemorated victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides every 27 January. The television broadcasts of the national commemoration both reflect and illuminate the complex processes of (national) histories, individual memory and collective remembrance, and the ways that they mediate and interact with each other in social and historic contexts. In addition to other genres (e.g. music, poetry readings, archival film), a speech is delivered by a prominent politician at each of these ceremonies. I argue that these speeches are examples of epideictic oratory, which provide politicians with the opportunity to communicate an understanding of the Holocaust as a catastrophe and a great affront to Our values. My rhetorical analysis focuses on the ways that politicians utilize two artistic means of persuasion: ethetic strategies, which place emphasis on their personal character; and logetic strategies, which aim to persuade through invoking arguments. I orientate to the ways that poorly selected ethetic and logetic strategies can disrupt the primary purpose of the epideictic speech: to communicate, and revivify, shared values.
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Keywords: Holocaust Memorial Day; commemoration; epideictic; persuasion; rhetoric; values

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 20, 2018

This article was made available online on April 18, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Evoking values or doing politics? British politicians’ speeches at the national Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration".

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