Universiteit Leiden

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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

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 (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

Key Publications 

Haaften, T. van & Leeuwen, M. van (2019). Strategisch manoeuvreren met stijl. Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing 41(1), 75-88.
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. 34. Springer, pp. 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.

University lecturer

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

Work address

Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number 2.14



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