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German Nationalism and Anti-Semitism Project

The Discourse of German Nationalism and Anti-Semitism 1871-1924

Felicity Rash has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust major research grant in collaboration with Geraldine Horan (University College, London) for £184,755 for the years 2008-2012. The broad aim of this project was to investigate the discourse of a number of nationalistically-inclined and/or overtly anti-Semitic authors of German propaganda published before and during the First World War, some of which influenced the discourse of early National Socialism. An online database has been set up to provide public access to rare documents and text that have been prepared for digital analysis.

Project Leaders: Professor Felicity Rash (Queen Mary, University of London) and Dr Geraldine Horan (University College, London)

Research Assistant: Dr Stefan Baumgarten (RA1); Dr Wayne Stables (RA2)

Postgraduate Research Student: Ms Camilla Leathem

Duration: 2008-2012

The broad aim of this project has been to investigate the ideological and linguistic influence of a number of nationalistically-inclined and/or overtly anti-Semitic authors on German propaganda before and during the First World War, and, subsequently, on the discourse of nationalist thinkers and politicians in the period leading up to the foundation of the Third Reich. 

The concrete objectives of the project were as follows:

1. To develop an archive of primary historical sources and to publish these on the project web-site.

2. To host a conference on pre-1924 nationalist and anti-Semitic propaganda.

3. To publish an annotated bibliography of German newspapers and journals for the period 1871-1924.

4. To use the existing research methodologies of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), most specifically the Discourse Historical Approach (DHA), for a critical analysis of a selection of primary texts. The findings of these investigations have been presented and discussed at workshops and published in monographs and periodicals during the period of the project. Research has concentrated upon the discourses of a number of key figures in German politics, philosophy and education during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, most particularly Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Heinrich von Treitschke and Paul Rohrbach. The major works of these authors as well as journalistic and political texts have been examined within the context of influences upon German political discourses prior to and during the First World War and upon the later discourse of National Socialism.

5. To establish a scholarly network for the continued collaborative study of nationalist and anti-Semitic discourse, not merely for the German-speaking world but for at least the European nations and their present and former colonies. 

All of the above objectives have been realized, although it was decided to limit the edited bibliography of German newspapers and journals to the period 1912-1918, due to the size of the database which RA1 assembled for the period 1871-1924 (which ran to several million titles). The period 1912-1918 is of particular significance, since it spans the years running up to and during the First World War, which ties in with the Project Leaders' plans for the continuation of the project past the end of its Leverhulme Trust funding.



The project leaders organized an international conference, 'English and German Nationalist and Anti-Semitic Discourse 1871-1945', which was hosted at QMUL on November 10-11, 2010 in collaboration with the Leo Baeck Institute, London. RA1 played a major role in the organization of the conference.

The conference was attended by over sixty delegates and aimed to contribute to and promote the study of nationalism and anti-Semitism in English language and German contexts from the beginning of the German Second Reich (1871) to the end of World War II (1945). Another aim of the conference was to provide an opportunity for interdisciplinary contacts between researchers working in the fields of discourse analysis, political science, historiography and other disciplines. Scholars from universities in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Russia, the USA, Australia and Hong Kong contributed papers reflecting a wide range of specializations, including political, cultural and art history, linguistics, musicology, literature, film and political theory. Key-note addresses were given by Professor Ruth Wodak (Lancaster) on 'The Discourse of Syncretic Antisemitism: 'Anything goes!'' and Professor Andreas Musolff (UEA) on 'How to Identify the Enemy of the German Body Politic: Carl Schmitt's Nationalist 'Concept of the Political''.



1. With Prof. A. Musolff: a workskop on the subject of nationalist and anti-Semitic discourse at the joint conference of the Forum for German Language Studies, the German Linguistics Annual Conference and Studies in the History of the English Language held April 29th-May 3rd, 2009 in Banff, Canada. Both project leaders and RA1 read papers at this workshop.

2. With Prof. A. Musolff: a workskop on the subject of German nationalist discourse, held at QMUL on December 14th, 2009. This workshop discussed a proposed collection of papers for publication in the journal Patterns of Prejudice. A special issue of this journal has since appeared, in 2011, edited and introduced by Felicity Rash and Andreas Musolff.



Felicity Rash 

Authored monograph: 

  • German Images of the Self and the Other in Nationalist, Colonialist and Anti-Semitic Discourse 1871-1918. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 222 pp.

Edited special journal issue (with Andreas Musolff): 

  • German Nationalist and Colonialist Discourse. A Special Issue of Patterns of Prejudice 45/5, 2011.

Journal Papers:

  • 'A Linguistic Hermeneutics Approach to Paul Rohrbach's Kriegsbotschaften.' In: Journal of Germanic Linguistics 21.2: 113-130, 2009.
  • 'Images of the Self and the Other in Paul Rohrbach's 'German Idea'.' In: German Nationalist and Colonialist Discourse. A Special Issue of Patterns of Prejudice 45/5, 381-397, 2011.
  • 'Images of the Self and the Other in the Nationalist Writing of Houston Stewart Chamberlain.' In: Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 2012.

FJR also spoke on 'Images of the Self and the Other in German Colonialist Literature' at the Conference of the Internationale Vereinigung für Germanistik held in Warsaw in July 2010.

Geraldine Horan

Journal Papers:

  • 'Discourses of gender and nationalism in early twentieth-century Germany and Ireland: an analysis of four nationalist women's texts'. In: Patterns of Prejudice. 2. Vol.45, no.5, pp. 469-497, 2011.
  • ''Not a foreign goddess': Germania, the Niederwald Monument, and Discourses of Gender and Nationalism'. In: Christina Lee/Nicola McLelland (eds), Germania Remembered 1500-2009: commemorating and inventing a Germanic past. Tuscon, Az: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2012, pp. 137-152.


  • ''Die Ã-stliche Gefahr''. The discursive construction of German and Polish identity in Kãthe Schirmacher's Ostmark speeches, 1906-1913.' The article will be submitted to the journal Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism for consideration in January 2013.

GH is also planning a follow-up project on 'The language of German anti-feminism and nationalism in Wilhelmine Germany 1871-1918', which will result in a monograph and a digitised corpus of key anti-feminist texts. Peter Lang has expressed an interest in publishing the monograph.

GH also spoke on 'Germania, the Niederwald Monument, and Discourses of Gender and Nationalism' at the conference 'Germania Remembered', held at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, London, in November 2009; and on 'Discourses of nationalism and anti-feminism in Wilhelmine Germany' at the Conference of the Association for German Studies, Queen Mary, University of London, April 2011. 

Geraldine Horan and Felicity Rash

Conference proceedings:

  • Edited with Daniel Wildmann, with an introductory chapter by Felicity Rash: English and German Nationalist and Anti-Semitic Discourse 1871-1945. Peter Lang: Oxford.



Over a three-year period, RA1 set up and edited the project web-site, assisted FJR and GH with their individual research, and organized the 2010 conference described above. In particular, he prepared a large number of significant primary texts for discourse analysis using digital concordance software. Three corpus types are now available on the project web-site:

1. Open Access Corpus (OAC), pdf files for public use.

2. Restricted Access Corpus (RAC), reserved for use by project team.

3. Empirical Analysis Corpus (EAC), a selection of texts from the RAC, converted to text file format for corpus linguistic analysis. 15,000 pages of text (around 3.5 million words) have been converted using the Abbyy Fine Reader software package which converts the German Fraktur typeface to Roman typeface. The texts have been carefully checked for accuracy and are available to the public via the project web-site.


RA1 has also assisted in the preparation of the above-mentioned bibliography of German journals and newspapers. His initial research demonstrated that it would not be feasible to annotate and publish a full bibliography for the period 1871-1924, particularly since this task involved the translation of the archival source information into English. It was therefore decided that RA2, who took over RA1's role in February 2012, would prepare a smaller bibliography for publication, based on the data already collected by RA1. This smaller, 300 page-long bibliography, spanning the years 1912-1918 is now available on the project web-site.



Camilla Leathem has been enrolled since July 1st, 2009, at Queen Mary, University of London. She is working on a detailed textual analysis of Houston Stewart Chamberlain's 'Kriegsaufsätze' (war essays) using the methods of CDA, in particular DHA. Following the submission of a substantial body of written work and an interview, Ms Leathem was permitted to 'upgrade' from M.Phil. to Ph.D. status in May 2011. She transferred to 'writing up' status in July 2013 and is on track to submit her Ph.D. thesis in June 2103.



Conference 'Perspectives on the Great War', 1-4 August, 2014

To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, an international, multi-disciplinary conference is being organized by the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film (QMUL), the School of History (QMUL), the Open University, and the German Department of University College London. The organizers are working in association with the Imperial War Museum, the Leo Baeck Institute (London), the German Historical Institute (London), and the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations (QMUL).

A network of some 150 international scholars, which has, in part grown out of the 2010 conference described above, will meet at QMUL between 1st and 4th August 2014.  The broad topics of the conference, as have emerged from the initial call for papers, are as follows: political and military history; colonial history; social and cultural history; religious history; medical science and technology; historiography; discourse analysis; legacy, memory and 21st-century cultural reflexes. A wide range of regional and national perspectives will be covered: the perspectives of Germany and Austria, Great Britain, the U.S.A, Canada, Ireland, the Middle East and India, Japan and China, Australia and New Zealand, the African colonies of both Germany and Britain; the Balkan, Polish and Russian perspectives and the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese perspectives.

Finally, FJR and GH have been approached by the publishers Palgrave MacMillan to edit and Handbook, 'Perspectives on the Great War', which will cover the major topics of the 2014 conference (although it is not intended as a collection of conference proceedings).

The 2014 conference and the proposed Handbook will ensure that the present project has a legacy which will last beyond 2104.


GH is also planning a follow-up project on 'Discourses of anti-feminism and nationalism in Wilhelmine Germany', which will consist of a monograph, an open access corpus of key texts, and a colloquium on 'Discourses of anti-feminism in politics and the media', to be completed in autumn 2014.

Final Report: 30.1.2013

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