“Persuasion Strategies”: New Volume of the Heidelberg Yearbooks

3 12 2008
15 authors from a wide range of subjects investigate persuasion strategies from antiquity to the present, in Europe, China and the US, in direct democracies and totalitarian regimes, in politics and law, literature, education, art, science etc.
“Persuasion Strategies” is the subject of the 52nd volume of the Heidelberg Yearbooks  
“Persuasion Strategies” is the subject of the 52nd volume of the Heidelberg Yearbooks, edited by Prof. Dr. Michael Wink and commissioned by the Society of Friends and the Rector of Heidelberg University. Fifteen authors from a wide range of subjects (philosophy, history, political science, sinology, ancient history, literary studies, musicology, law, psychology and biology) investigate various kinds of persuasion strategy from antiquity to the present, in Europe, China and USA, in direct democracies and totalitarian regimes, in politics and law, in literature, education, art and science, in interpersonal communication and (in one case) in the dealings between humans and demons.

“Persuasion strategies” are the conscious and intentional use of verbal and non-verbal resources to convince others to adopt certain attitudes, give their agreement or perform particular actions. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly confronted with persuasion strategies, in advertising, politics or everyday communication. The present volume reflects the ubiquity of persuasion processes. The articles focus on the various affective and/or rational persuasion resources and their actual implementation and effect in various historical, political, cultural and legal contexts.

The first article by A. Kemmerling (philosophy) describes the way in which verbal resources can be used for the purposes of implicit misguidance, an extreme case of persuasion. Four essays home in on recent examples of persuasion strategies in very different political contexts: B. Lungstras (law) provides an enlightening survey of arguments used in the present-day debate on embryonic stem-cell research; B. Mittler (sinology) discusses how a parable told by Mao lives on in contemporary China and the various uses to which it is put; M . Berg (American history) focuses on the recent conflict in connection with reparation claims deriving from the history of slavery in the United States; and U. Wagschal (political science) inquires into the influence exerted by parties and other institutions on referenda in Swiss direct democracy.

Three articles examine the persuasive power of literature and art: with reference to poems by Gottfried Benn, C. Steinhoff (Germanic studies) indicates how argumentative patterns familiar from non-fiction texts can be transposed into a specifically lyric form; V. Nünning (English studies) focuses on narrative literature and offers an overview of narrative procedures serving the communication of values, norms and behavioural patterns; A. Kropp (Romance studies) analyses antique (mostly Latin) imprecations for the insights they provide on the persuasive resources human agents resort to in their dealings with gods and demons. In the framework of a study of court scenes in two oratorios, J. Hirschmann (musicology) investigates an unusual topic: the way in which composers use musical means to underscore the various persuasion strategies employed by figures engaged in a dispute.

Other articles discuss the role of history in persuasion processes: A. Chaniotis (ancient history) attempts to explain why, in ancient Greek diplomacy, history was used as an argument and also why argumentation based on history was practised as a ritual in some periods; B. Schneidmüller (medieval history) investigates the manipulation of historical facts connected with the election of Lothar of Saxony as king of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in 1125 and the persuasive function of this manipulation; B. Mittler (sinology) surveys the presentation of Chinese and international history in contemporary Chinese schoolbooks.

The close relationship between “learning” and “persuasion” is pinpointed by the article from M. Cierpka and A. Schick (child psychology), who refer to a concrete model, the “Faustlos” (“Fistless”) project aiming at the encoragement of conflict resolution skills in children. Finally, the article by M. Wink (biology) indicates the interest the natural sciences have in aspects of the “persuasion” topic. Wink indicates that biological process can readily be understood in terms of language, power relations, communication and (in a figurative sense) persuasion.

The editors of the volume are Prof. Dr. Angelos Chaniotis (formerly Heidelberg, now Oxford), spokesman of the interdisciplinary project “Persuasion Strategies” (2004-2006) funded by the Baden-Württemberg ministry of higher education in the framework of its Special Research Programme, and his project associates Dr. Amina Kropp (now Munich) and Dr. Christine Steinhoff (now Brunswick). They explain that this selection of articles indicates the multiplicity of approaches, methods and perspectives transcending the well-established links between persuasion strategies and rhetoric or logic. The collection is designed as a stimulus furthering, extending and vitalising the investigation of a topic of central import for our understanding of dynamic communication processes.

A. Chaniotis, A. Kropp, C. Steinhoff (eds.): Überzeugungsstrategien. Heidelberger Jahrbücher, Vol. 52, 2008; ISBN 978-3-540-88646-4: Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg

Please address any inquiries to
Prof. Dr. Angelos Chaniotis
All Souls College
Oxford, OX1 4AL, United Kingdom

Dr. Amina Kropp
Institute of Romance Studies
University of Munich
Ludwigstraße 25
D-80539 München

Dr. Christine Steinhoff
Bildungshaus Schulbuchverlage Westermann Schroedel
Diesterweg Schöningh Winklers GmbH
Georg-Westermann-Allee 66
D-38104 Braunschweig

Prof. Dr. Michael Wink
Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biology
Heidelberg University
phone: 06221/544881, fax: 544884

Inquiries from journalists may also be addressed to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
Heidelberg University
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
Editor: Email
zum Seitenanfang/up