Study Group "Rhetoric of Violence" (until 2012)

This study group concentrates on the phenomenon of the verbal representation of violence in antique texts. The aim is, among other things, to analyse in what way descriptions of violence and a violent vocabulary may have violent effects, even if the descriptions do in most cases not culminate in actual acts of violence, the more so as the reality behind the texts may differ fundamentally from the one that is suggested verbally.

In order to be able to analyse the rhetoric of violence at all, it is of decisive importance to clarify what we really mean by the term “violence”. Violence may contain aspects such as compulsion, the delimiting of possible courses of action/of influence, manipulation, the mobilisation of the public, the reification of adversaries, (pejorative) counter-images of others etc. Furthermore, in order to approach the phenomenon of rhetorical violence, it might be helpful to develop a classification of the modes of speaking about violence.

So far, it appears that a text’s violence cannot be determined simply because of the use of individual words of violence or by explicit slander but rather that the whole rhetoric of a text has to be taken into consideration. The group traces the functions and potential effects of such modes of speaking about violence – and in the process, also directly intends to measure possible positive effects of such descriptions.