The Development of Controversies: From the Early Modern Period to Online Discussion Forums
Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani

Number of pages: 304 pages

Publisher: Peter Lang Bern, Switzerland

Printed in Germany, 2009


Has the internet changed the nature of conducting controversies? This question cannot be answered easily as different forms of human interaction in an online environment exist and controversies in an online environment have not been analyzed from a linguistic point of view so far. On the other hand, there are many linguistic analyses of controversies in the Early Modern Period. First, this volume describes the communicative background of two online discussion forums dedicated to the study of historical arms and armor. Then, the volume analyzes the similarities and differences between Early Modern controversies and controversies in online internet discussion forums. Further, this book offers an accurate analysis of the strategies used in online discussion forums, analyzing two controversial threads taken from two online discussion forums and provides insights into the individual tactics and strategies applied in online controversies and highlights the similarities and differences of applied principles, norms, and rules. The book finally comments on stylistic choices used by participants in the controversies.

You can order the book The Development of Controversies: From the Early Modern Period to Online Discussion Forums directy at Peter Lang or at

The Development of Controversies: From the Early Modern Period to Online Discussion Forums
Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani


Research question
Objectives of the research
Contents of the volume

Socio-cultural context of the forums
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Social networks and communication in online discussion forums
2.3 The participants in online discussion forums (active participants, passive participants, distribution of rights, motivation of participants, and the goals of participants
2.4 The principles and rules of communication in online discussion forums dedicated to the study of arms and armor
2.5 The background of the keris controversy and the nationalism controversy
2.6 Summary

Conflicts and controversies in theory and practice
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Human conflict and polemical discourse
3.3 Different types of polemical discourse: discussion, dispute, and controversy
3.4 The ideal controversy: a model by Leibnitz
3.5 The characteristics of controversies in practice
3.6 The role of emotions in public controversies
3.7 Summary

The République des Lettres and Pamphlets
4.1 Introduction
4.2 The members of the République des Lettres and their attitudes
4.3 Pamphlets in the République des Lettres
4.4 Summary

Communication principles from Early Modern Controversies to Electronic

5.1 Introduction
5.2 Controversies as language games ruled by principles
5.3 Classification of communication principles
5.4 The changing nature of communication principles over time
5.5 Summary

Individual moves and strategies: from the République des Lettres to online discussion forums
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Moves and strategies used in the scientific controversy between Kepler, Röslin, and Feselius in the 16th century
6.3 Moves and strategies used in the religious controversy between representatives of Protestant Orthodoxy and the Pietists and a comparison to online controversies
6.4 Moves with characteristic rhetoric of individuality in 17th century controversies compared to moves in online controversies
6.5 Moves and strategies used in a religious pamphlet war between Protestants and Jesuits in comparison to moves and strategies used in controversies in online discussion forums
6.6 Using accusations as special moves in Early Modern Controversies and their equivalents in controversies in online discussion forums
6.7 Summary

Individual moves and strategies in online discussion forums
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Global structure of controversies in online discussion forums
7.3 Opening moves
     Accusations as an opening move
     Justifying one’s entry into a controversy
7.4 Attacking moves
      Supporting the criticism of thread initiator
      Agreement with friend/friends to support own argument
      Accusations of not having enough knowledge about a subject
      Accusation of making a naked assertion (nudae assertiones)
7.5 Defending moves
      Defending the author of the article
      Refutation with reference to the accepted experts and authority
7.6 Counterattacks
      Retorting and correcting the statements of the opponent by providing examples
      Using the partial point-by-point method to counterattack
      Accusations of misrepresentation
      Apologizing as an answer to the accusation
7.7 Deflecting moves
      Claiming incomprehension and misunderstanding of the article by the opponent
      Stressing that one is not interested in getting involved in a controversy
      Giving interpretation of one’s own words
      Using repetition
7.8 Accusation moves related to violations of principles of communication
      Accusation of the violation of the principle of being warm and friendly
      Accusation of the violation of the principle of who carries the burden of proof
      Accusation of the violation of the principle of not making personal attacks
      Accusation of the violation of the principle of not solely relying on arguments   

      from authority
7.9 Neutral moves
7.10 Using rhetorical and direct questions in controversies
        Using rhetorical questions to support one’s own position or a supporter’s

        Using rhetorical questions to attack the opponent
        Using direct questions to seek information
        Using direct questions to challenge the opponent’s statement
        Using direct questions to divert attention
7.11 Summary
Stylistic choices in controversies
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Style markers in online controversies as written dialogue: audience interaction

      and addressing other participants
      The dimension of medium: the usage of vocatives and signature lines
      The usage of the pronoun we to address group identity
      Different functions of the pronoun I
      Different functions of the pronoun you
      Discourse markers
8.3 Lexical choices
      The usage of jargon and technical terms
      Person-related terms
      Polemical terms and phrases towards theories, arguments, and ideas of the

      other group
8.4 Emoticons
     Emoticons used for their intended purpose or in a neutral way Emoticons used

     sarcastically to attack the opponent
8.5 Summary
9.1 Summary
9.2 Future steps in terms of approach into online controversies


© M.Khorasani Consulting