Reflections on the Project

Over the past few weeks, we have been rewriting our scripts, and tightening our arguments to incorporate more cross references between our different disciplinary approaches. I have also been deciding what elements to cut from my section of the presentation. One of the biggest challenges for all of us has been to keep our points succinct. Since Sophie’s hypothetical pointer that ‘no one knows what you don’t say’, it has been easier to cut with confidence. Throughout this process, we have also realised that it is more about collective cohesion than about packing in as much information as possible.

For my section, I ended up transcribing Farage’s Brexit victory speech on June 23rd 2016. I was amazed that there were no transcriptions readily available online. Seeing it written down, also made me realise that the words take on very different meanings and significance when you break down their structure. I approached the analysis and transcription of the speech like breaking down a poem, and realised that political rhetoric, shares many formal attributes with spoken word, when seen on the page. Farage’s speech is broken into six, stanza-like sections, each of which performs a different action. They are punctuated by cheers from the crowd.

Having spent more time studying the context and content of UKIP rhetoric, I have gained a better understanding of how Brexit came about. The shock and sadness of the liberal bubble amongst young metropolitan voters over Brexit, is indicative of how little we are aware of demographics outside of our own.

This process has been extremely enlightening in terms of learning about how we can approach a case study using multiple disciplines. We have all noticed how, as students of the humanities, the boundaries between each of our disciplines, from history and geography, to literature and classics, are less defined than we initially expected. We have come to realise that when investigating phenomena like Farage and Brexit, an interdisciplinary approach will always yield a fuller understanding of the issue.

Geography section of presentation

My working for the geography section of the presentation is based on one of Farage’s 2013 speeches rallying support for Brexit. The speech makes specific reference to the North East of England, so I have based my part of the presentation on a case study of this area. I have applied the idea of a spatial fix, a concept coined by the well-known Marxist geographer David Harvey. A spatial fix describes capitalisms tendency to solve its inner crisis through geographical expansion and restructuring. This was seen in the North East, as the ship building industry moved abroad to exploit cheap labour. My analysis pulls out sections of the speech and shows how Farage exploits context and applies it in an emotional way, targeting the disenfranchised voices. It was great that the geography and history sections worked so well together, so we have tied this together really easily in the presentation. Georgina’s rhetoric analysis also fits in well with the emotional manipulation aspect of this.

 

 

 

Putting it all together

Over the past week, we have spent time each writing out scripts or at least prompts/bullet pointed documents for our individual sections of the presentation. We have continued to communicate well through email and also set up a third google document on which to each put up the scripts for our individual sections. This was really important and has worked well because it allowed us to keep up to date with what each other was doing, and the exact points that each of us would be making in our sections so that we could work out where we could refer back to each other and reference each other’s ideas.

Yesterday we met with Sophie for our first official run through of the presentation. She was pleased with it and said it was good, but her advice to us for the final week before we present was to sharpen up and add in more references to each other’s parts and to try to utilise each other’s ideas more so as not to make it seem that we have each just worked completely separately, using entirely separate interdisciplinary approaches. Our idea has always been to draw on each of our disciplinary backgrounds, in order to analyse our question: how Farage’s voice is so powerful, and the justification for this is that we feel that in order to get the most complete picture and understanding, both historical context, geo-history context and the voice, words and speech structures and ideas of the man himself must all be considered. Now, however, we must try to make more use of what each other says to show how these different disciplinary approaches have explicitly intersected. It would also be useful for us to be slightly more explicit about the interdisciplinary methodologies that we have used to highlight this.

Further to this, whilst our run-through was just under 21 minutes, this was as a result of trying to talk exceptionally fast! It will be necessary for each of us to cut down  what we are saying in order for us to be able to add in the things that Sophie suggested and also to be able to speak at an understandable speed! We must remember that the presentation style is as important as the content, and that being incomprehensible in terms of speed, will completely undermine any good content we have.

For my part, I have applied Aristotle’s modes of persuasion (ethos, logos and pathos) to think about how Farage uses these appeals and how the way he uses them and the measure in which he uses them make his voice powerful. In light of the time restraints, however, and what we must add, I will now focus almost entirely on Farage’s appeals to emotion (pathos), perhaps referencing logos and ethos where relevant. I have chosen to do this because it is the appeal which seems to most closely relate to what the history and geo-history sections discuss, and will allow us to make a strong and coherent case about the way that Farage exploits the context.

Voice and Context: Valuing Interdisciplinary Research

It is the end of week 8, and presentation day is fast approaching. We met this week to run through our presentation in full. The title is looking like it will be based around what made Farage’s voice so powerful in the run up to the election. His rise to fame and to having his voice listened to by millions is really interesting. He has been an extraordinary rise, going from being dismissed as a “loony” by Cameron in 2006, to steering the national debate. Contextually, he’s not unusual; politicians have said similar things to him in the past, and across Europe a wave of right-wing populist politicians have arisen, who have distinct similarities to Farage. Yet, no one else’s voice has been as powerful or influential, as Holland’s election result this week demonstrated.

So, why Farage? Why was his voice so powerful? This is what our presentation seeks to examine.

It’s interesting that what started out as a project on ‘voice’, based around Farage’s speeches, has actually ended up necessitating a far greater source set, to fully answer our question. This has, inevitably, required use of content that sits within various disciplines. This includes Farage’s speeches, historic comparisons, geographic spaces and, particularly surprisingly, some of Aristotle’s ideas. It also necessitates interdisciplinary methodology; it is key to analyse what Farage actually said and how he said it, but also to consider the context surrounding his voice, as this was undoubtedly significant in making his voice so powerful. This necessitates methodology from a number of disciplines, so we have all been able to contribute our own skills and different approaches to the project.

We have, however, had to be careful that our argument is coherent throughout, and to make the various sections (which take varying disciplinary stances) link together. At the run through, it seemed like there is still some work to be done on this, so we are now all posting our presentation “scripts” on our google document, so that we can work on this. This is really key to the presentation, particularly given the length of the presentation; we don’t want our listeners to get lost, so it is very important that our argument is coherent throughout.

We have worked out a structure to the presentation which we are all happy with; I will be doing the introduction and conclusion (as there are two history students in our group), then we will look at contextual factors that saw Farage’s voice become so powerful; Lili will begin with a broad historical comparison and Louisa will look at the idea of a spatial fix in relation to Farage’s voice. Following this, Georgina and Merrick will analyse Farage’s voice itself, to consider how it was so powerful, looking at various aspects, such as the rhetorical strategies that he used. This will enable us to consider both the context surrounding Farage’s voice and his voice itself, to examine why Farage’s voice was so powerful. This will be explained in our presentation next Monday!

Historical/Political Context of Brexit – Initial Research Points

Populism, Nationalism and Brexit: ‘The Politics of Brexit’ https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/j.ctt1kft8cd.8.pdf

  1. 1990s; Brexit is among other things a rejection of “Cool Britannia,” the 1990s branding of a cosmopolitan, creative, and united Britain as a part of a happy vision of globalization.
  2. 1990s – 2000s; “New Labour” was in power, but hints of the Mod ’60s and the once mighty Empire were not accidental. Public Relations firms and politicians sought to market national identity  – and “cosmopolitan” was in part (if ironically) claimed as a part of British national identity. London anchored the national brand. London was (and is) a global financial center, shopping center, cultural center, and center of advertising itself. (The Brexit campaign mobilized a different and less happy story of Britain. Perhaps most notably, it was unwilling to accept London as a stand-in for the country as a whole. The financial and cultural industries became foci of resentment rather than celebration.)
  3. Early 2000s: Then came 9/11, the war in Iraq, Islamic terrorism homegrown in some of Britain’s ghettoized urban neighborhoods, and financial crisis. Financial crisis was less a direct cause or focus of the Brexit campaign than a background condition. It shaped a national change of mood in which migration and anxieties over Islam and terrorism became much bigger issues. The ill effects of financial crisis were prolonged by the government’s ideological insistence on a policy of austerity that lengthened Britain’s recession, slowed recovery, and hurt most those most dependent on government support.

Short-term factors: financial crisis and instability since 2008, refugee crisis, rise of terrorism threat from ISIS and other groups…

Important general context to consider: “This is not a uniquely English set of frustrations and wishful thinking or political responses. Populism and nationalism are prominent around the world partly because since the 1970s inequality has grown sharply and the middle and working classes of once-prosperous countries have seen living standards stagnate and economic security disappear. At the same time, migration has increased globally – largely because of globalization itself as well as wars. Western countries like the United States and the United Kingdom chose to fight in the Middle East. And the world quite simply looks scary. Nationalism flourishes precisely when people feel threatened by international forces. Populism flourishes when people feel betrayed by elite.”

Comparison with referendum in 1975 → in which the British public voted to join the Common Market

  • The forty one years between the two referendums witnessed the development of a sizable literature on factors that shape public attitudes toward the EU (e.g., Eichenberg and Dalton, 1993; Franklin, Marsh and McLaren, 1994; Gabel and Whitten, 1997; Gabel, 1998; Hooghe and Marks, 2005, Maier and Rittberger, 2008; Armingeon and Ceka, 2014). These studies explore a range of factors, including the influence of parties and elites on public opinion (e.g. 4 Steenbergen, Edwards and de Vries, 2007; Ray, 2003), the effects of media coverage of the EU on support for integration (Vliegenthart et al. 2008), the influence of national identities in shaping public attitudes (Carey, 2002), and the role of the economy in influencing support for further integration (Gabel and Whitten, 1997).
  • Yet the ‘fear of the other’ component of national identity can change quickly, particularly if it is linked to a sudden crisis, for example over refugees in Europe or increases in levels of net migration due to the free movement of EU nationals. Equally, perceptions of the economic consequences of EU membership as well as cues provided by politicians whose popularity is volatile are also potential candidates for influencing attitudes towards EU membership. This implies that the balance of EU attitudes, especially in a highly charged referendum context, likely will be more dependent on immediate political issues, policy concerns and elite cues than on deep-rooted historical identities.

Week begin. 6/03

In between last week’s meeting and this week’s meeting, each group member had gone away and researched for their section of the group project. This was to ensure that by this week’s meeting, we could all contribute and fill in the gaps to make sure that our project was interdisciplinary instead of multidisciplinary or disconnected.

In Thursday’s meeting, we began to formulate an argument and structure for the presentation. Our presentation will be looking at the voice of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, through his speeches pre- and post-Brexit and consider whether it is the context that allowed his voice to become powerful, or if it is what he is saying that has given him a platform to speak, or if it is a combination of both the context and Farage. In order to do this, we will look at the historical, political and geographical context in order to set the stage for a closer analysis of the speech. Georgina will be analysing the speech through the lens of philosopher Aristotle, whilst Merrick is going to look at the rhetoric and language of the speech as well as the media and communication which Farage used during the Brexit campaign.

I think, now that we all know more about what we are doing, we felt a lot more confident than we did before by the end of the meeting. Merrick also showed the group how “Prezi” works, which we think will work well for the project, as it shows how everything connects and will hopefully ensure that everything flows well. Our next step is to start putting a working script together, and we are meeting again next week (before the run through on the 20th with Sophie).

Meeting Notes from Week Begin. 27/02

Next steps for our group:

Finalise the selection of speeches

Complete our own individual research

Meet next week as a group and consolidate our ideas within our presentation

Potential Structure for our Presentation:

Context

1. Historical

2. Geographical

3. Close analysis Literary, Classical

4. Bibliography

In the upcoming two weeks [completed by the 20th March]: start writing up the presentation.

For the presentation itself: choice of doing a powerpoint: Best to use. If we don’t then the structure is really important. 5 mins each. Gives structure to what you’re saying.

Not too much text, use to clarify what you’re saying, support what you’re saying. Visuals. Pictures of Farage??

Keeping pace and focusing audience.

Mixture of images and quote from speech.

Conclusion.

What they say together. Interdisciplinary focus. Think about broad outline: list of key themes. What we’re aiming for.

Have the information and the analysis by when we meet on:

Wednesday 8th, 2pm– Liberal Arts common room/ maughan- book a room.

Next meeting with Sophie March 20th at 9am – a week before the presentation (need to have written by then). Trial run for speech.

Primary Sources:

Speeches:

2013 speech (http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2013/09/nigel-farages-speech-full-text-and-audio)

Immigration speech just before referendum (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k422Kc-9DE&t=336s)

Victory speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLCb1cGROAw)

Interdisciplinary focus – Looking at the where and when (Geography and History context) versus who (close analysis of what Nigel Farage is saying) in order to understand how Farage and Brexit were given a platform to speak and be heard→ benefit of being interdisciplinary is the ability to understand and consider these different factors.

Close Analysis of Language Rhetoric and Farage in the Media

Thus far in our research project, we have been debating between the most relevant type od case study to exemplify ‘voice’, finally settling on a speech. Choosing the speaker and the relevant speech has been the most difficult element in this choice but we have settled on an Nigel Farage, who for better or for worse, has shaped the foreseeable future of Britain, through rhetoric, and incendiary statements. The question therefore stands, ‘what makes his voice powerful?’ How was UKIP so successful under Farage, and what about his language and presentation style, enabled him to so strongly shape public opinions? Did he ride off the back of the cultural climate, or are his words more measured and carefully calculated than we realise?

We discussed in our last meeting how the ‘populist’ rhetoric of Farage, Trump and Le Penn are all linked and have all found a following in the white working class demographic. I believe that there is a clear link in the rhetoric and sentiments used by all three figures. As an English literature major, I am interested in how the speeches themselves are structured, what recurrent words are used, what rhetorical devises are employed, the complexity/ simplicity of the language, and the political history from which they stem. We discussed how these far-right sentiments pay homage to earlier instances of anti-immigrant speeches such as Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech.

In my research, I came across a series of video essays created by Evan Puschak, about how both Trump and MLK use language to manipulate the emotions of their audiences. The framework with which he sets out to analyse their rhetoric is how I intend to break down the Farage speech that we choose. The framework incorporates the search for these key ideas; selling a feeling, use of rhythmic word series, using small words (1-2 syllables), second person commands, ending sentences on strong punchy words, repeated buzz words (“It’s just common sense!”) without evidence, and the use of colloquial phrases to dispel the common viewer’s perception that politicians who use large words, accomplishing nothing.

It may also be useful to juxtapose Farage’s speeches against something iconic and morally upright, such as MLK’s rhetoric. Some areas of comparison might include; imprinting images, strong opening lines, musicality of language (alliteration, anaphora, allusion), knowing the audience, mix of plain and ornate language, using the poetic to elevate the simple. Which of these classical rhetorical devices are employed or shunned and what might be the purpose of doing so?

One of the candidates for a specific speech by Farage is as follows https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k422Kc-9DE&t=336s, and was given in March 2015, leading up to the GE. This speech exemplifies many of the tropes associated with the ‘down to earth’ language of Farage. He manages to re-frame xenophobia with rhetoric which rationalises the feelings of his audience; case in point, know your audience.

This coming week (January 27th) we will meet again to discuss our plan moving forward, with primary materials we have gathered. We will then start to structure our individual segments of the presentation.

Nigel Farage: how does he make his voice powerful?

Just before the beginning of reading week, the group had been running with the idea of doing our presentation on terrorism and the amplification of fear, but after some discussion it became apparent that not all members of the group were fully happy with this theme, struggling to work out how they would apply the methodology and perspective of their major. I think the honesty that the group displayed in these discussions was really important and hopefully means that as a result, we have finally settled on an idea where everyone can see a clear role for themselves. I hope this means that our presentation will be more successful.

Having met with Sophie, on the Friday before reading week began, it became clear that the theme of terrorism could have been one that was so large it would be too easy for us to lose focus and for our presentation to seem like we were skimming over ideas rather than looking at them in depth. As always seems to be the way when people change their minds, we ended up back at the very first idea that the group had considered, which was to focus on a person and a small sample of their speech, an idea which was initially popular because of the narrower focus it would give us. The issue initially had been our inability to reach a collective agreement about who to focus on; some had been keen to keep it contemporary, others to look further back in history; Trump had been toyed with, but concerns about the incoherence of his speeches had prevented an agreement. In our meeting with Sophie, the idea of focusing on the voice of Nigel Farage was considered, and seemed popular. It would allow us to keep focus, and to stick with the idea of powerful and marginalised voices. We settled on this idea, and will look at how Farage uses his voice, and how it is powerful, considering how he appeals to a sense of working class voices having been marginalised by the establishment, and how he also marginalises other voices in the process (how he speaks against immigrants).

Our tasks for reading week have been to compile our material, finding relevant samples of Farage’s voice, including speeches and interviews and also to think about how we can each work from the perspectives of our major disciplines. We have lots of ideas on our google doc, with suggestions for the historical contextualisation of Farage’s voice, particularly the anti-immigrant sentiment, and how the way he frames these concerns is different from how those ideas have been expressed before. We also have suggestions for a geography perspective, looking at how Farage has appealed to marginalised voices through geo-history.

For myself, I will be attempting to look at the language and rhetoric that he uses, and if possible to link in to Classics. I can look at how Farage’s argumentation sits with Classical forms of argument and rhetoric, like Aristotle’s ideas about the types of persuasion – appeals to ethos, logos and pathos (the character of the speaker, logic and emotion respectively), and which elements of these he uses to make his voice powerful. Logical fallacies such as ad hominem might also be relevant, and I have found an interview where Farage himself accuses the establishment of having this very approach to him, saying they play the man, and not the ball. There were a few other ways I could think of to incorporate Classics, such as looking at proto-populists from ancient Rome, such as the Gracchi brothers, Clodius and Caesar to think about how this fits in with Farage’s sense and expression of himself as ‘a champion’ of ‘the little people, the decent people’. I am conscious however, that the presentation will not be a hugely long one, and if it seems there will not be enough time, I will stick with looking at the argumentation and rhetoric. Overall, I am confident now that we will all be able to bring our knowledge, perspectives, materials and methodologies from our respective disciplines in order to shed light on, and provide a fresh approach to a common question of how Farage makes his voice powerful.

Trump vs. ISIS

This week, our group has hit a bit of a hurdle. We’ve been continuing discussing ideas, but are finding it difficult to come to one idea that everyone is happy with, and which will allow us to all use our home disciplines. We’ve discovered firsthand how difficult interdisciplinary working can be; everyone comes from different backgrounds, with different content, methods and ideas, and so it is surprisingly challenging to come to one question. However, we have come up with two ideas, which we hope will incorporate our respective disciplines:

– An analysis of Donald Trump’s speeches, how does it become a powerful speech and how does it marginalise voices? We are thinking of doing this through the lens of each of each of our disciplines, thinking about things including the spaces that he speaks in, the rhetoric that he uses, the theatrical nature of his speeches, his representation in popular culture, the context within the history of US presidents. We are currently looking for a strong speech, which would facilitate analysis from all of our respective disciplines.

– Terrorism: looking at the idea of ‘amplification of fear’, and how this has manifested in Western culture (using ISIS as the example). We have thought about the use of symbolic places, use of characters, media process, historical background that has set the stage for this fear (insecurity about immigration, financial crisis, comparative element 9/11). Some of our group have started researching this, and considering how we could integrate all of our disciplines together.

Whichever idea we decide on, we’d still like to look at it through the lenses of our disciplines; geography, history, english literature, film studies and classics. We are going to use methodology from our own disciplines to make this as interdisciplinary as possible, yet ensure that we integrate our individual points together to come up with one strong, coherent argument.

We are planning on meeting with our adviser to discuss this, so we can come to an idea ASAP and get on with our individual discipline research.