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My Life in Propaganda

Language and Totalitarian Regimes

by (author) Magda Stroinska

Durvile Publications
Initial publish date
Sep 2023
Propaganda, Historical & Comparative
Author lives in Ontario
This eBook meets EPUB Accessibility 1.0 specification and W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 A, at a minimum.
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price

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My Life in Propaganda is Magda Stroińska’s personal account of growing up with communist propaganda in Eastern Europe. She looks at the influence of her family history that contradicted what she was taught at school; the cognitive and emotional effects of compulsory school readings; socialist realist art and film; and Radio Free Europe and Voice of America and their role in shaping her generation’s collective view of the world. Through her chosen field of linguistics, she analyzes ways in which propagandistic language, such as ‘doubletalk,’ Orwellian ‘Newspeak,’ ‘weasel words,’ and, more colloquially, ‘bullshit,’ is used to distort reality. The book demonstrates that democracy can never be taken for granted.

About the author

Magda Stroińska MA (Warsaw), PhD (Edinburgh) has been a Professor of Linguistics and German at McMaster University since 1988. Her major areas of research and publication include sociolinguistics; analysis of discourse, and cross-cultural issues in pragmatics and cognition, in particular linguistic representations of culture; cultural stereotyping; language and politics; propaganda; the issues of identity in exile; aging and bilingualism; translation; interpretation and language brokering; as well as language and psychological trauma.

Magda Stroinska's profile page

Editorial Reviews

In relatively free Western societies, we are used to the distortion of language in many contexts. Commercial advertisers will use language to try to convince us of the efficacy of their products. Political parties of a particular flavour, the policies of which are highly contestable, will describe their philosophy as "progressive" - how could anybody fail to support a "progressive" political programme? However, this all takes place in an environment of free debate and commercial competition as well as a system of contract law which would prevent businesses from misleading their customers. But what happens if the state monopolises economic life, education and all channels of mass communication? As Magda Stroinska shows, in this fascinating and personal account of the abuse of language, totalitarian states have, though the ages, effectively entrenched their position by abusing the meaning of words. Magda, a philologist, has lived in communist Poland and studied the growth of Nazi Germany. Nobody is better place to explain how the control of language can lead to the control of society. —Dr. Philip Booth, St. Mary’s University, London UK