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From war memoirs to milblogs: language change in the witnessing of war, 1914-2014

Chouliaraki, Lilie (2014) From war memoirs to milblogs: language change in the witnessing of war, 1914-2014. Discourse and Society, 25 (5). pp. 600-618. ISSN 0957-9265

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0957926514536830


In this article, I explore linguistic variation in selected soldiers’ memoirs at two key historical moments of the past hundred years – the 20th century’s world wars, representing the apex of industrial warfare, and the 21st century’s insurgency’ conflicts, representing the emergence of information wars - the introduction of digital technologies in the conduct and communication of war. Focusing in particular on the ways in which the trope of irony is mobilised in this genre, my analysis demonstrates the historically-specific character of the linguistic practice of witnessing death at war and identifies the changing moral discourses that emerge from such practice. The technological shift from industrialised to information wars, I conclude, is associated with a concomitant discursive shift from existential and historical forms of irony, where witnessing used to consist of a dispassionate reflection on the staggering waste of human life in 20th century conflicts, towards meta-irony, where witnessing has become a compassionate and caring commentary on the suffering of individuals, in the ‘humanitarian’ conflicts of the 21st century

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2014 07:34
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:11

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