A Linguistic Analysis of Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s German Nationalist War Essays, 1914-1917
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This thesis presents a critical discourse analysis of Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s German nationalist war propaganda essays written between 1914 and 1917. Focussing on Chamberlain’s discursive strategies of manipulation, the analysis explores how he uses language to suggest to his readers that they have freedom of thought while actually reducing or eradicating their critical disagreement space. As language is the sole vehicle for the manipulative dissemination of ideology in written discourse, this research makes a contribution to understanding the workings of propaganda as ideology-driven mass manipulation by exposing the linguistic mechanisms therein. The thesis also contributes to broader Chamberlain scholarship and, specifically, to as yet scant scholarship on Chamberlain as a nationalist propagandist rather than as a race theorist. After analysing the topical content of the war essays and contextualising the results against the local and global context of Chamberlain’s Germany, an extensive text analysis is provided. The text analysis follows a targeted multi-methodological approach combining methods of critical discourse analysis with pragma-dialectics and corpus-assisted discourse studies. This incorporates a corpus-assisted analysis of keywords and concordances, and a qualitative close-reading analysis addressing discourse strategies of legitimisation and delegitimisation, coercion and dissimulation. The major finding produced by this research is that Chamberlain’s war essays are just as much legitimisations of the author and his essays as they are of the essays’ topical ideological propositions. They are characterised by strategies of ‘othering’ on two levels: the topical ideological ‘othering’ of Germany’s war enemies in relation to the German ‘self’ and, on the meta-level, of the ‘othering’ of the readers in relation to the authorial ‘self’. Using an elaborate metaphor scenario, he delegitimises the reader by undermining the epistemic certainty of their environment, and correspondingly legitimises himself as the source of ‘enlightenment’. Using strategies of abstractive legitimisation and delegitimisation, he makes the war a human-centric matter, the resolution of war reader-dependent, and the solution to the war author-dependent, ultimately making Chamberlain’s justification of the ideological message dependent on the justification of his authorial means.
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