Given its role in leaders’ persuasive skills, “charisma” is a relevant field for multimodal rhetoric. This chapter investigates Mussolini’s charisma in his speeches and multimodal communication. According to a socio-cognitive model, charisma is a set of a person’s internal features, manifested by external displays – words, voice, gestures, facial expression – that have an important role in persuasion since, triggering positive emotions, they induce others to pursue goals in a convinced, engaged, enthusiastic way. Various internal features that are the bulk of a speaker’s persuasiveness, such as imperiousness, categoricity, empathy, or creativity, are first identified in Mussolini’s words and speech acts. Then an annotation scheme of his multimodal communication is employed to identify how these features are displayed in Mussolini’s prosody, gestures, facial expressions, and posture. The analysis shows that their frequency and combination only rarely make up a “Benevolent” type of charisma, and more often shape an “Authoritarian-Threatening” and a “Proactive-Attractive” charisma.
Poggi, I. (2017). The “seeds” of charisma: Multimodal rhetoric of Mussolini’s discourse. In Assimakis Tseronis and Charles Forceville (a cura di), Multimodal Argumentation and Rhetoric in Media Genres (pp. 263-290). Amsterdam : John Benjamins [10.1075/aic.14.11pog].