Invectivity: A New Paradigm in Cultural Studies?
Date & Venue

Date: April 1 & 2, 2019

Waseda University
1-6-1 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-ku
Main Campus, Building 7
Room 7-206

Workshop Contents

The variety and intensity of insults and denigration in politics, society, and culture currently seem to have a global boom phase. Donald Trump's insult politics, the new wave of right-wing populism with its attacks on ethnic or religious minorities, and the often aggressive debate culture in social media are just a few examples of phenomena, which have brought the significance of denigration as a ubiquitous dimension of communication into public awareness. Public discourse on the issue of discriminatory and insulting speech is mainly concerned with the question, how to avoid derogatory language usages, how to contain its negative effects and how to find legal means to defend the right to human dignity against linguistic violence without significantly restricting the freedom of speech. This is a legitimate approach and even a necessity in times where pejorative and discriminatory practices seem at vogue, in which hate speech has found large resonance chambers within the social media and the forming of public opinion is threatened by an intimidating and divisive debate culture.

Even though the level of aggression, the types of invective practices, and the number of symbolic forms to express contempt or denigration significantly vary between societies, it is hard to imagine that there was a historical era without verbal aggression. Thus, in order to understand the way, invective communication functions, it is not sufficient to view it as a deviant form or even a misuse of communication. This workshop will take its starting point from the observation, that invective communication is a universal mode of interaction and as such should be viewed as a fundamental manifestation of the social. By conceptualizing invective communication as a core force in the stabilization and dynamization of cultural and social orders and by shifting the large and heterogeneous field of relevant phenomena under the over-arching umbrella of the terminological artifact "invectivity" the workshop aims at analyzing the role of invective practices …

  1. for the building of communities through practices of discrimination and inclusion
  2. in struggles for hegemony in the political sphere, in particular struggles for visibility and audibility (e.g. populism)
  3. in asserting absolute truth claims in the field of ideological world-views (e.g. radicalization)
  4. in meta-invective debates (e.g. debates on hate speech or "political correctness" as a means of politics).

Workshop Program

April 1, 2019

11.40-12.40    Sachiko Ide (Japanese Women University): Language and communicative interaction in terms of ba theory: In search for sensibilities and sensitivities in communication

Lunch Break - Followed by Presentation of Funding Opportunities by Myra Bauersachs and Saiki Hase (both DFG, Tokyo Office)

13.10-13.50    Gerd Schwerhoff (TU Dresden): On the Notion of Invectivity
13.50-14.30    Lars Koch (TU Dresden): The Great Disruptor. Trump, the Media and the Politics of Insult
14.30-15.10    Xavier Mellet (Waseda University): Populism and Negative Messages in French Politics Since 2017: How to Take Advantage of Political Distrust

Coffee Break

15.40-16.20    Sabine Müller-Mall (TU Dresden): Invective Challenges to Freedom of Art
16.20-17.00    Jeff Hall (Waseda University): Hate Speech and Japan's Nationalist Right: Divisions and Debates

Short Break

17.10-17.50    Dominik Schrage (TU Dresden): Construction of the Philistine as an Invective Category
17.50-18.30    Joachim Scharloth (Waseda University): Metapragmatics of Invectivity

April 2, 2019

09.00-09.40    Alexander Kästner (TU Dresden): Mocking at monks and scoffing at saints. The invective mode of the early Reformation in a German mining region
09.40-10.20    Steven Trenson (Waseda University): The Quest for Truth and Invective Behavior in a Buddhist Context: Focusing on Some Salient Cases in Japanese Buddhism
10.20-11.00    Maji C. Rhee (Waseda University): Semiotic Analysis of Covert Invective in Korean

Coffee Break

Presentations in German

11.30-12.10    Shinji Nakagawa (Kwansei Gakuin University): Hassrede in Japan. Der Fall der Koreanischen Schule in Kansai (Westjapan)

Lunch Break

13.00-13.40    Hiroyuki Takada (Gakushuin University): NS-Lexik bei Björn Höcke. Auf dem Pergament der Hypertextualität

13.40-14.20    Tanja Prokic (TU Dresden): Platzende Blasen. Theater und Invektivität.
14.20-15.00    Hitoshi Yamashita (Osaka University): Pragmatische Überlegung über die gestörte Kommunikation.

Time for discussion


Joachim Scharloth ➚
German Linguistics, Waseda University, School of International Liberal Studies

Tien-Shi Chen ➚
Sociology, Waseda University, School of International Liberal Studies

Arne Klawitter ➚
German Literature and Media, Waseda University, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, School of Humanities, German Department

Xavier Mellet ➚
Political Science, Waseda University, School of International Liberal Studies

Steven Trenson ➚
Buddhist studies, Waseda University, School of International Liberal Studies


If you wish to participate in the conference, please get in touch with Joachim Scharloth via:


Supported by

  • Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, 18K00850)
  • German Science Foundation / Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Picture: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons