Portrayal by Inappropriate Interaction: Persona Meets Persona in Journalistic Profiling

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A close reading of three different profiles of Danish-Palestinian poet Yahya Hassan (1995-2020) showcases how interactions between journalists and subjects may become a mutual performative challenge and how, on such occasions, the personas of both parties may serve as a multi-layered journalistic resource in both an ethical and aesthetic sense. Applying the concept of “rhetorical maneuvers” (Phillips 2006) to describe reporters’ uses of an understated ‘first-person minor’ versus a demonstratively responsive ‘first-person major’ perspective (Phillips 2019), we highlight a principle that may reorient interview situations that are tense or out of control. The principle entails continuous shifts of subject form that are potentially inappropriate but enable both contextual transparency and a distinct textual structure or narrative style. By considering the mutual constitution and reconstitution of personas as rhetorical maneuvering we hope first to expand the analytical perspective of persona studies at the level of form while also, secondly, motivating journalists to explore the relational and interactive aspects of persona performances as a resource for occasional, productive disruption of their professional practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPersona Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)77-89
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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