#secondcivilwarletters from the front: Discursive illusions in a trending Twitter hashtag

Andrew S. Ross, Aditi Bhatia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


When conservative media personality and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones warned of an impending Second Civil War to be initiated by Democrats, he instigated a viral hashtag on Twitter – #secondcivilwarletters – which drew tweets of political commentary and critique in a style mimicking war letters from the American Civil War. Using a sample of these tweets, this article explores the evocation of discursive illusions already established within mainstream and alternative media discourse about contemporary partisan politics in America – that is, the divide between the Republicans and the Democrats and how they categorise each other. To do this we adopt Bhatia’s framework of the discourse of illusion and its three main components of linguistic and semiotic action, historicity and social impact. The analysis reveals the extent to which this illusion has permeated the consciousness of the users as they present their ideological beliefs and positions in this new media context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2222-2241
Number of pages20
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


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