In this talk, I investigate the discourse of instructional videos from the pick-up artist (PUA) community. PUAs are men who learn and practice short-term mating-oriented speed-seduction based on techniques and scripts as propagated by seduction ‘experts’. In doing so, I focus on videos which feature explicit voice-over commentary by the PUA himself plus the comment section of the respective video. This allows for a threefold perspective on PUAs’ seduction performance: 1) the ‘seductive’ speech event itself, 2) the PUA’s commentary, which situates the speech event in their instructional paradigm, and 3) the comments by the viewers of the video, which provide an understanding of the uptake of the proposed strategies by the audience. In a case study analysis, I show that PUAs’ discourse, although ostensibly aimed towards seduction, in fact pursues different aims: recruitment of new members, promotion of the ideology, and creation of power imbalance in conversations with women that tilts towards verbal coercion. The comments left by the audience demonstrate an ambivalent reception, with the assessment of the PUA being questioned. In addition, I address issues of informed consent and research ethics, which come to the fore in dealing with such sensitive material and/or hostile informants.
Sofia Rüdiger is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Bayreuth with a research focus on digital communication, World Englishes (part. in East Asia), language and food, and (historical) pragmatics. She is editor of Corpus Approaches to Social Media (with Daria Dayter, Benjamins, 2020) and Talking about Food (with Susanne Mühleisen, Benjamins, 2020). Together with Daria Dayter, she has published several articles on the discursive behavior of pick-up artists (e.g., in Applied Linguistics Review, English Today, Journal of Pragmatics); in 2022, their research monograph The Language of Pick-Up Artists: Online Discourses of the Seduction Industry was published by Routledge.
Zoom link: https://hku.zoom.us/j/99943621938?pwd=TlhiRWh3L2pJMjQ1WGovT2xPOU9ldz09
Meeting ID: 999 4362 1938
Livestream will be available at Room CRT-7.45, 7/F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU