Semantics/Rhetorics/Politics. This LARC research community centers on the notion that language is always already political.  As Schiller put it, language “writes and thinks for you.” That is, the very terms, phrasing, and categories of a given partisan language serve to construct our perceived reality, shape our attitudes towards features of it, and effectively direct our interactions with those features.  Further, our focus will be on the distinctive extent to which fascist attitudes, and more so full-blown fascist politics, are enhanced and sustained by the language, vocabulary, and articulation that it repetitively relies upon.  In the contemporary age, permeated as it is by political slogans, soundbites, chants, and tweets, careful reflection on the relationship between language, implicit associations, and exclusionary, authoritarian, and ultimately fascist politics is especially urgent.  What theoretical insights can we apply to recognize the pre-determining dynamics of linguistic politics?  How can we protect ourselves against the internalization and adoption of such language?  Are there ethically defensible techniques to counter and correct proto-fascist linguistic politics?

From LTI to LTP: fascist words then and now

As a first-hand observer of the hateful and murderous collective mentality cultivated within the Nazi Third Reich, the German-Jewish Professor of Literature, Victor Klemperer (1881-1960) came to develop the theory that, fundamentally, it was not merely the overt coercion, propaganda, or economic self-interest that consolidated the Nazi regime.  Rather, “Nazism permeated the flesh and blood of the people through single words, idioms and sentence structures which were imposed on them in a million repetitions and taken on board mechanically and unconsciously.”  In 1947, he published LTI: The Language of the Third Reich (LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: Notizbuch eines Philologen) to demonstrate the roles of the LTI through instances large and small, and thereby alert people to the insidious dangers of fascist language politics.  In my study, with one eye on the present (whence, LTP: Language of the Trump Presidency), I propose a close reading of Klemperer’s LTI and secret Diaries maintained for the duration of the Nazi regime, in order to better appreciate his views on how to diagnose, counteract, and neutralize poisonous language politics.

To apply for this opportunity, students should first speak with either Sammy Basu or Gaetano DeLeonibus before submitting a 500-word proposal and personal statement describing the research project one intends to pursue that indicates how one's project speaks to the proposed topic and grows out of one's previous course work or other experiences and interests as well as how participation in LARC relates to one's future academic and/or vocational goals. An academic transcript (unofficial is fine), a short writing sample, and the name of one faculty member who could serve as a reference for your academic work should also be included with the 500-word proposal and personal statement. Applications are due via email to Gaetano (gdeleoni) or Sammy (sbasu) by 5 pm on Friday, November 30.


Willamette University

Liberal Arts Research Collaborative

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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