Unleashing Argumentation in Netflix’s Docudramas: Illocutionary Pluralism and Multimodal Rhetoric in the Trailer for Queen Cleopatra (2023)

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Docudrama, multimodal argumentation, Netflix, Queen Cleopatra, semiotic resources, speech acts, trailers


Trailers for movies are generally considered aesthetic independent multimodal fragmented discourse. Since one of the key features of trailers for docudramas is to promote arguments in order to propagate the importance and worthiness of documentaries to be watched, trailers rely heavily on limited fragmented compositions and implicitness to arouse the viewer’s curiosity. This study aims to provide an enthymematic interpretation of the trailer for Netflix’s brand-new docudrama Queen Cleopatra, which has resulted in immense controversy in Egypt since its release in April 2023. Thus, the study investigates how the enthymematic property of the selected trailer is constructed through the illocutionary pluralism in the characters’ argumentative polylogues and presented through the interplay of verbal-visual semiotic resources such as montage techniques, music, moving images, colors, etc. This study adopts Wildfeuer and Pollaroli’s (2017) theoretical framework of multimodal argumentation in movie trailers supported by Lewiński’s (2021) illocutionary pluralism in argumentative polylogues. The framework foregrounds the importance of the surrounding context (Pragma-Dialectics) in multimodal rhetoric and dwells upon two levels: logic of film discourse interpretation and argumentative reconstruction of the movie trailer. Findings have revealed that the interplay of cross-modal devices and speech acts stimulates spectators to form hypotheses and draw inferences on the cinematic discourse they are subsequently invited to watch and thus to retrieve arguments in support of the claim that the advertised documentary is worth watching. 


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Author Biographies

Inas Hussein Hassan, College of Language and Communication, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport

Inas Hussein Hassan is an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and, currently, the Vice Dean for Postgraduate Studies and Scientific Research at the College of Language & Communication (CLC) - Alexandria, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Egypt. Her research interests are in Discourse Analysis, Multimodality, Pragmatics and Education studies.

Sara Yahya ElMansy, College of Language and Communication, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport

Sara Yahya ElMansy is a lecturer of Applied Linguistics and, currently, the Head of Humanities Department at the College of Language & Communication (CLC) - Alexandria, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Egypt. She is interested in a wide array of interdisciplinary research in Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, Multimodality, Cognitive Linguistics and Translation studies.


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How to Cite

Hassan, I. H. ., & ElMansy, S. . Y. (2023). Unleashing Argumentation in Netflix’s Docudramas: Illocutionary Pluralism and Multimodal Rhetoric in the Trailer for Queen Cleopatra (2023). Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 10(5), 84–111. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/1773
Received 2023-07-15
Accepted 2023-08-30
Published 2023-12-19