Critical Perspectives on the European Mediasphere. The intellectual work of the 2011 European media and communication doctoral summer school.

Title chapter: Using Discourse Theory: A Discourse-Theoretical Exploration of the Articulation of Death
Author: Nico Carpentier and Leen Van Brussel
Keywords: discourse, theory, death, discourse theoretical analysis
Abstract: Death itself is a signifier that tries to capture human decay, and its meaning consists of a series of elements that are often taken for granted, such as end/cessation/termination, negativity, irreversibility, inescapability and undesirability. At the same time, closer scrutiny of these articulations shows the contingency of the discourse of death, with almost every discursive element opening up a range of gaps, complexities and unfixities. In order to unravel the meanings of the articulation of the discourse on death, and to show some of its complexities, we will use discourse theory (and mainly Laclau and Mouffe’s (1985) variation) as the theoretical backbone of our analysis, which is firmly rooted in a secular position. This analysis will also allow us to illustrate (part of) the workings of discourse-theoretical analysis (or DTA – see Carpentier & De Cleen, 2007) in the development of a secondary theoretical framework, which can be used, together with discourse theory itself (as primary theoretical framework), for a variety of analysis, including the study of media texts (Van Brussel, 2011).
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