How ‘New’ is the New National Front?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - 4:00pm

Mapping Out Marine Le Pen’s Rhetorical Turn With Digital Humanities Software

Global France Seminar presents:

Cécile Alduy
Tues. May 3
4:00 pm in 14E-304

Will Marine Le Pen be the next President of France in 2017? Since she took over the National Front in 2011, Marine Le Pen has carried the far right party to first place in the polls, winning an unprecedented 28% of the votes in France’s latest December 2015 elections. What does she say that resonates with French voters so strongly? And does voting Marine Le Pen today mean the same thing as voting Jean-Marie Le Pen yesterday? To answer these questions, we need to look at Marine Le Pen as a sign and a producer of signs: a symptom of the recent evolution of French society and a catalyst of tectonic shifts in political and republican values. Using text mining software and textual analyses, Cécile Alduy has ciphered more than 500 speeches and texts by Jean-Marie and Marine Le Pen to pinpoint exactly how, and on what topics, the daughter’s discourse differs from that of her father. In this talk, literary studies meet digital humanities and political science to crack the new National Front rhetorical code and uncover the deeper ideological and mythological structures beyond the stylistic polishing.

About the speaker

Cécile Alduy is Associate Professor of French literature and culture and the Director of the French and Italian Department at Stanford University. She published last year Marine Le Pen prise aux mots. Décryptage du nouveau discours frontiste [Marine Le Pen Taken To Her Words. Decoding the New National Front Discourse] (Seuil, 2015), which received the "How To Think Society" Panorama Prize in France, and before that, as a Renaissance specialist, Politique des “Amours” [The Politics of Love] (Droz, 2007) on proto-nationalist representations in French Renaissance poetry. She recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Occasion on “The Charlie Hebdo Attacks and their Aftermath." A specialist of the National Front and French political discourse, she is a contributor to The Atlantic, Politico, The Nation, The New Yorker, Al Jazeera America, The Boston Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Rue89, L’Obs and Le Monde.