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Argumentation in Fashion Communication


Greco S.

Course director

Mercuri C.



Course Objectives

Overall, the objective is to use argumentation models and concepts as a lens to analyze and produce digital fashion communication messages in a critical and responsible way. In particular:

  • Learn to identify recurrent types of argument in digital fashion storytelling and analyse them critically
  • Understand how “fashion controversies” emerge, how argumentation is used in these controversies by fashion brands and other actors

Course Description

This course includes three main content areas:

  • Introduction to main concepts from argumentation (issue, standpoint, argument) and from cultural semiotics in fashion.
  • Argumentation in digital fashion storytelling, with a focus on fashion films and videos related to specific campaigns and brand storytelling. We discuss why storytelling is argumentative and we learn to identify and analyse critically recurrent types of arguments.
  • Argumentation in “fashion controversies”: how controversies surrounding fashion (e.g. sustainability) might emerge in a polylogical discourse in the society at large, in which different actors communicate to a multiple audience on different platforms. Responding to “stock issues”, it is possible to introduce new policies in fashion communication messages.

Learning Methods

Learning is based on analysis of concrete examples and on classroom discussion.

Evaluation procedures and Grading criteria


  • Group presentation during the course: 20% of the evaluation
  • Written exam (during exam sessions): 80% of the evaluation

Grading criteria for the presentation and the exam will be specified in the detailed syllabus circulated at the beginning of the course and explained in class.


Attendance is not compulsory but strongly suggested. All students are required to take part in group presentations, which happen during the course hours. If it is not possible to participate in group presentations for serious reasons, an alternative work will be required in a written form.

Required Materials

Cigada, S. (2016). Analysing emotions in French discourse: (Manipulative?) shortcuts. In M. Danesi and S. Greco (Eds.), Case studies in Discourse Analysis (pp. 390-409). Munich: Lincom Europe.

Greco, S. (2018). Designing dialogue: Argumentation as conflict management in social interaction. Tranel, 68, 7-15. Open access:  

Greco Morasso, S., and Zittoun, T. (2014). The trajectory of food as a symbolic resource for international migrants. Outlines: Critical Practice Studies, 15(1), 28-48. Open access:

Groarke, L. (2019). Depicting visual arguments: An "ART" approach. In F. Puppo (Ed.), Informal logic: A 'Canadian' approach to argument. Windsor, ON: Windsor Studies in Argumentation (pp. 332-374). Open access:

Jørgensen, F. P. E. and Isaksson, M. (2008). Building credibility in international banking and financial markets: A study of how corporate reputations are managed through image advertising. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 13(4), 365-379.

Kjeldsen, J. E. (2015). Where is visual argument? In F. H. van Eemeren & R. Grootendorst (Eds.), Reflections on theoretical issues in argumentation theory (pp. 107-117). Cham: Springer.


Optional Readings

Aristotle, Art of Rhetoric. Translated by J.H. Freese (1926). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.

Barthes, R. (2005-English edition). The language of fashion. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Eemeren, F. H., van, and Snoeck Henkemans, A. F. (2017). Argumentation: Analysis and Evaluation (2nd edition). London: Routledge.

Greco, S., and De Cock, B. (2021). Argumentative misalignments in the controversy surrounding fashion sustainability. Journal of Pragmatics, 174, 55-67. Open access:

Greco, S., Mercuri, C., and De Cock, B. (2021). Victims or agents for change? Representations and self-representations of women in the social media debate surrounding sustainable fashion. Babylonia, 3, 90–94. Open access:

Tseronis, A. (2013). Argumentative functions of visuals: Beyond claiming and justifying. OSSA Conference Archive. 163.