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Reading: The Oxford Union Debate on War in 1933: Rhetoric, Representation, Political Action

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The Oxford Union Debate on War in 1933: Rhetoric, Representation, Political Action

Author:

Taru Haapala

University of Jyväskylä, FI
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Abstract

This paper shows how a debate conducted in the Oxford Union, the leading student debating society in Britain, was used to make a point about representation and politics in the national press, and what it means in terms of political action and who can be entitled to make political claims. In 1933 the Union debated a motion “That this House will under no circumstances fight for its King and Country”. It was carried by a clear majority, and the scandal it caused called the role of the Union and what it represented into question. It is argued here that there were two rhetorical levels in operation, the rhetoric of representation and the rhetoric of debate. Regarding the former, the Union was blamed in the national press for lacking the representative qualities attributed to it, and regarding the latter, its rules and traditions were defended as part of the functions of a political assembly.

How to Cite: Haapala, Taru. 2017. “The Oxford Union Debate on War in 1933: Rhetoric, Representation, Political Action”. Redescriptions: Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory 20 (1): 68–84. DOI: http://doi.org/10.7227/R.20.1.5
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Published on 01 Apr 2017.
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