Sentimentalism in Online Deliberation: Assessing the Generic Liability of Immigration Discourses

  • E. Johanna Hartelius


Analyzing the video archive of personal narratives curated by the Where Are You From? project, the author argues that public immigration discourses are conditioned by sentimentalism. Two effects of this generic conditioning are explicated. First, through the displacement of attention from a conflicted present to an imagined past, Americans may commemorate mythic immigrants while passing anti-immigration laws. Second, sentimentalism transposes immigration from a potentially deliberative to a perennially epideictic register. The author’s first implication is a rationale for generic awareness. If and when the only genre in which the public is able or willing to engage the subject of immigration is sentimentalism, moderating this impulse is prudent. A second implication pertains to the genre’s impact on spaces that are conceived and celebrated for public engagement.


Public Discourse Digital Medium Public Engagement Affective Experience Online Forum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Johanna Hartelius
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CommunicationUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh, PAUSA

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