Drawing upon class readings and your own research (both individual and group), you will write an essay examining the causal role of language and symbol in your particular event. To borrow from Semelin—in what ways was language used to crystallize and then destroy an “other”? Thus, you are primarily looking at the operation of language and symbol prior to and during the mass killing; however, some research groups may wish to also examine the role of language and symbol as it played into the aftermath of the mass killing.
Sign is roughly defined as a discrete unit of meaning—“something that stands for something, to someone in some capacity." You are being asked to conduct an informal discourse analysis—an investigation that reveals the socio-psychological characteristics of a particular sign. For the purposes of this essay, the sign you will be investigating is the atrocity/massacre/genocide to which you have been assigned.
Questions that will assist you in undertaking the analysis of your particular mass killing are:
1. Was there a particular ideology in place? In what ways did language and/or symbol contribute to this ideology?
2. In what ways is the language/symbol a manifestation of binary instinct?
3. What particular us vs. them narratives were promulgated? How did language and symbol weave into this narrative?
4. Did language/symbol work to exploit and/or foster cultural and/or economic instability?
5. How did language/symbol work to strengthen and bolster identity?
6. In what ways did language/symbol work to establish in-group purity and out-group debasement and filth?
7. In what ways did language/symbol fulminate fear?
8. In what ways did language/symbol work to establish or underscore the desire for security?
9. In what ways did language/symbol tap into the archetypes that Keen addresses in Faces of the Enemy, specifically:
* the enemy as created by paranoia
* the enemy as enemy of God
* the enemy as barbarian
* the enemy as rapist
* the enemy as beast, insect, reptile
* the enemy as death
10. Ask and answer these questions:
What? (Explain or define your topic.)
Who? (Who were the actors in the atrocity? Who were the perpetrators and victims?)
When? (When did this atrocity occur? In a single day or over the course of days/weeks/months/years?
How? (What made the atrocity possible? What mechanisms were in place to facilitate the killing?)
Why? (What was the reason for the killing? Examine the “official” story as well as the socio-psychological perspective.)
This essay requires research. To this end, you are required to:
1. Go to at least TWO of the SCC research databases and find, read, and print a minimum of four articles, two of which must be from academic journals. (Note that these articles cannot be abstracts—which are just article summaries.)
2. Check out at least one book that addresses some aspect of your topic.
2. Include (and cite) information from at least four articles/and or books as support in your analysis.
3. Include a “Works Cited” page.
4. Include a copy of each printed journal article or book article (source passages highlighted) with the final draft of your essay.
5. If you like, you can supplement your database sources with information from books and reputable websites.
6. While you are welcome to use Wikipedia to launch your investigation, you are not to use it as an official source.
7. Essay must be 5+ pages in length, typed, titled, and double-spaced.