Commenting on in-memoriam columns
Juggling with deliberative and epidictic norms
The discussion in this paper proposes to shed light on a hitherto under-researched area: commenting on in-memoriam columns. Borrowing the basic notions of deliberative and epidictic genres from classical rhetoric and accommodating them to a pragmatic study of online interaction between commenters and columnists, readers’ comments are conceived as follow-ups, which necessarily re-contextualize the initiating column. The mixed character of the initiating columns, which combine deliberative and epidictic features, encourages the commenters to choose between different readings of the columns in context, and exercise their discursive power in re-contextualizing the commenting/column interaction. The analysis suggests that in the data discussed here, commenters manifest clear preference for the epidictic. By so doing, they depart from norms of deliberation manifest in habitual political commenting. On a more general level, the analysis supports the initial claim, namely that by choosing between different readings of the initiating columns and following-up on them, commenters have the discursive power to shape and re-shape the interaction through preferred commenting strategies.
Keywords: online commenting, epidictic, deliberative, follow-ups, genres
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