Popular News Discourse: American and British newspapers 1833-1988
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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This paper studies political language in late nineteenth century partisan newspapers by (a) evaluating the degree of pragmatic force, or ideological closure in political editorial content published during the 1872 election year in three leading Iowa newspapers; and (b) linking variations in the degree of ideological closure of these texts to the institutional and social-political contexts of their production, i.e. the political role of editors and the web of relationships within which they performed their work. The degree of ideological closure is evaluated by analysing a range of rhetorical and discursive practices. The study identified variations in degree of closure both between newspapers affiliated with the same party and within a single newspaper over time. Such variations are interpreted as reflecting editors’ need to mitigate an intricate set of political interests and obligations. The analysis also brings to light the richness of partisan editorial language of this time. These finds demonstrate the complexity of the political language and discourse of Gilded Age newspapers.


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