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?

Fascist Rhetoric: from “langue” and “parole”

In his inaugural speech to the Collège de France, the French literary theorist Roland Barthes (1915-1980) reflected on the epistemological nature of his interdisciplinary work.  Invoking the Saussurian terms “langue” and “parole”, he advanced the theory that “’langue,’ as a performance of language, is neither reactionary, nor progressive; it is simply fascist; because fascism does not impede speaking, it obliges to speak. … From the moment it is uttered, were it in the most profound intimacy, language enters in the service of power” (Leçon, 14 (Editions du Seuil, 1978). Thus, in Barthian terms, the language of power or language in power is inherently fascist. Given such a statement, are we to believe that fascism never disappeared or died? If so, how is it that we are unable to detect its presence, to realize its permanence?

To apply for this opportunity, students should first speak with either Gaetano DeLeonibus or Sammy Basu 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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