1st Edition

The Religious Rhetoric of U.S. Presidential Candidates A Corpus Linguistics Approach to the Rhetorical God Gap

By Arnaud Vincent Copyright 2020
    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    Drawing on corpus linguistic methods of analysis, this book critically examines the "rhetorical God gap" in American political discourse between the Democratic and Republican parties. The volume investigates the claims (which have often not been substantiated by quantitative data in the literature and have tended to focus on particular genres of political discourse) that there is a correlation between a higher degree of religiosity in Republican political discourse and voting preferences for the party and that Democratic politicians should engage in similar discourse toward "closing" the gap.  The book adopts a keyword approach, using such techniques as collocation analyses, concordance reading, and Bible-specific N-gram identification, toward the study of a corpus of general campaign speeches over a 50-year period, and links findings from this data with social and cultural contextual factors to provide a more informed understanding of rhetorical patterns in religiously laden political language. The volume showcases the value of corpus linguistic methods in interrogating claims around political language and their broader applicability in linguistic research, making this key reading for students and scholars in corpus linguistics, critical discourse analysis, American politics, and religious studies.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables



    1 Methodology and Limitations

    2 Religious Rhetoric in the Early Cold War

    3 The GOP’s Rhetoric of Culture Wars and Anti-Liberalism

    4 The Religious Rhetoric of the Democratic Party: Religious Denominations, Communities of Brothers and Sisters and Biblically Inspired Language

    5 Conclusion



    Arnaud Vincent is an invited professor of linguistics at the Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles and scientific collaborator at the Centre for English Corpus Linguistics, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. He holds a master’s degree in American studies from Antwerp University and a PhD in linguistics from the Université Catholique de Louvain.

    "Arnaud Vincent’s new book, analytically strong and armed with a combination of methodologies, reveals the existence of consistent and party-specific linguistic differences. It is an impactful contribution to the academy, not least because it never loses sight of the perspective that language is never neutral, and that the use, the quantity, the concepts, and the omissions of rhetorical argumentation are crucial when it comes to the analysis of presidential discourse."Miriam Diez Bosch, Ramon Llull University, Presidential Studies Quarterly

    "Overall, this book makes a unique contribution to religious rhetoric research and U.S. political communication in two respects. Firstly, it convincingly shows the synergistic power of corpus linguistics and political communication...secondly, besides empirically corroborating previous studies, it challenges and extends the monolithic 'rhetorical God gap' theory, broadens the current understanding of the role religion plays in today's American presidential elections, and offers illuminating insights into the research field. The book is not only a valuable reference for scholars but also a useful guide for novice researchers and students who wish to apply critical thinking to a well-acknowledged theory and interpret empirical results within historical contexts.” - Shanshan Zhang and Fan Pan, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, European Journal of Communication