QAnon: An Ideology Weaponized Through Ancient Words and Digital Platforms

April 19th,2021 | 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Professor/Instructor/Speaker: Colleen Kelley, Ph.D.
Join Dr. Colleen Kelley as she examines the attraction, strategies and outcomes of QAnon as a 21st century rhetorical act, grounded in centuries-old rhetorical forms. These include vocabulary derived from an early American "paranoid style" of political discourse grounded in millenarianism and apocalypticism ideologies as well as "good versus evil" demonizing narratives. QAnon is configured as the latest iteration of language historically weaponized to dehumanize perceived "enemies." The January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol is identified as the point at which QAnon encroached into mainstream American politics through a symbiosis of rhetorical and literal violence. There have been historical precedents for the discursive transformation of "deep-state" fantasies into violence since the time of Aristotle. However, what occurred on this day was unprecedented weaponized speech, mediatized by a digital delivery system which privileges speed over deliberation, time and space distortion over deep thought, and reaction or stimulation over civil and civilizing communication.
Colleen Kelley, Ph.D.

Colleen Kelley, Ph.D., received her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Communication from the University of Oregon. She is a tenured associate professor of communication at Penn State Behrend. Her teaching areas include rhetorical and communication theory, public address, political communication, intercultural communication, and gender issues in communication. Her research interests include political communication, particularly the influence of the "religious right" on American politics, peace and communication, and ethics and communication.