Articulating Atrocity: Metaphors of Rural Life in Accounts of Mass Shooting

Project Details


Discursive analyses of ‘bottom up’ sources such as soldiers’ letters, diaries and interview transcripts have yielded significant insight into the impact of National Socialist ideology on the thought processes of individuals during the Third Reich. This project focuses on the language used to describe Holocaust mass shootings and views these as a product of social dynamics articulated and rationalized in part through the pre-existing language of everyday life. By examining first-hand accounts across the spectrum from perpetrator to survivor, I will identify which metaphors and images individuals reach for in describing massacres and the domains of social and labour activity from which these are most commonly derived. Rather than seeking confirmation of expectations by looking for resemblances to Nazi propaganda, as has been done many times before, this study will identify patterns of descriptive analogy and analyze them in their social as well as political context. As others have argued in the case of religious ritual and ‘unconscious narrative enactment’, social scripts pertaining to the communal work such as hunting, harvesting and butchery emerge as lenses through which perpetrators, bystanders and victims viewed the processes and motives relating to massacres. This research will provide insights for my own longer-term investigation of the submerged memory of mass shootings in post-war literature but also benefit scholars in the fields of history, perpetrator studies and socio-linguistics.
Effective start/end date1/04/2431/08/24


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