Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Maarten van Leeuwen

University lecturer

Dr. M. van Leeuwen
+31 71 527 2073

Maarten van Leeuwen is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics.

More information about Maarten van Leeuwen

Fields of interest

  • Stylistics
  • Argumentation
  • Rhetoric
  • Political discourse analysis
  • Populism


My main research interest concerns the rhetorical consequences of linguistic choices in argumentative discourse, a.o. in the domain of politics. Starting point for my research is the insight that language users almost always have a choice when it comes to describing objects or states of affairs in reality, and that such alternative formulations are nog interchangeable semantically. For instance, it makes a difference whether a glass filled for fifty per cent is described as ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’, whether people who oppose a political leader are characterized as ‘freedom fighters’ or as ‘rebels’, whether the European Union is metaphorically described as ‘one big family’ or as ‘a bottomless pit’, etc. Such linguistic (or: stylistic) variants are not neutral, but steer listeners or readers towards different conclusions about the phenomena involved.

In my research I study stylistic choices and their argumentative-rhetorical consequences from a linguistic angle. How do language users make use of stylistic choices to reach their rhetorical goals? For instance, how are linguistic choices used to create a political image (such as the image of being a ‘populist’)? I am also interested in methodological aspects of linguistic-stylistic research: how can linguistic choices and their rhetorical consequences be identified and analyzed in a systematic way? Since linguistic choices have a clear argumentative function, the third pillar of my research is the interface of linguistic stylistics and argumentation theory. How can insights from linguistic stylistics and argumentation theory be integrated in meaningful ways, in order to study how language users present their arguments strategically?

Teaching activities

My teaching is on (linguistic) stylistics, argumentation theory and rhetoric.  Courses I am currently teaching (in Dutch) are:

  • The power of words: rhetorical effects of choices in formulation
  • Strategic presentation of argumentation
  • Stylistics
  • Rhetoric and Politics
  • BA and MA thesis seminars

Key publications

  • Haaften T. van & Leeuwen M. van (2021), On the relation between argumentative style and linguistic style: integrating linguistic-stylistic analysis systematically into the analysis of argumentative style, Journal of Argumentation in Context 10(1): 97-120.
  • Boogaart R.J.U., Jansen H. & Leeuwen M. van (2021), "Those are your words, not mine!" Defence strategies for denying speaker commitment, Argumentation 35: 209-235.
  • Boogaart R.J.U., Jansen H. & Leeuwen M. van (Eds.) (2021), The Language of Argumentation. Argumentation Library: Springer.
  • Leeuwen M. van (2019), Measuring people-centrism in populist political discourse: A linguistic approach. In: Zienkowski J. & Breeze R. (Eds.), Imagining the Peoples of Europe, Populist discourses across the political spectrum. Discourse approaches to politics, society and culture no. 83. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. 315-340.
  • Leeuwen M. van (2018), Style and grammar in political discourse: complementation and its argumentative-rhetorical potential. In: Oswald S., Herman T. & Jacquin J. (Eds.), Argumentation and language - linguistic, cognitive and discursive explorations. Argumentation Library no. 32: Springer. 51-72.
  • Leeuwen, M. van (2015). Stijl en politiek: een taalkundig-stilistische benadering van Nederlandse parlementaire toespraken. [Style and politics: a linguistic-stylistic approach to Dutch parliamentary speeches]. Utrecht: LOT. (Access the English summary).
  • Leeuwen M. van (2014), Systematic stylistic analysis. The use of a checklist. In: Kaal B., Maks I. & Elfrinkhof A. van (Eds.), From Text to political Positions. Text analysis across disciplines. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 225-244.

Curriculum vitae

2016 -present Assistant professor, depts. Dutch Language and Culture / Linguistics  (Leiden University Centre for Linguistics)
2008 - 2016 Lecturer, depts. Dutch Language and Culture / Linguistics / LUC The Hague / International Studies (Leiden University Centre for Linguistics)
2009             Visiting scholar, Linguistics Department University of Berkeley, California (fall semester)
2007 - 2012 PhD candidate, NWO project ‘Stylistics of Dutch’ (Leiden University)
2003 - 2008 Lecturer, Academic Language Centre Leiden University
2006 - 2007 Course developer, Taalcentrum-VU, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
2006             MA Dutch Language and Culture, Leiden University

University lecturer

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL Nederlands

Work address

Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number 2.14



  • No relevant ancillary activities
This website uses cookies.  More information.