The Cathedral of Ice: Terministic Screens, Tyrannizing Images, Visual Rhetoric, and Nazi Propaganda Strategies

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Louisiana Scholars' College

Many aspects of the Nazis’ methods of persuasion, especially the rhetoric and psychology of printed propaganda and the speeches of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels have been the subjects of intensive study. Oddly, the subject of technology applied as an instrument or supplement to propaganda, or the rhetorical contributions of technological devices, has very little representation in Nazi studies, despite the significance it played in their rise to power. This thesis attempts to fill that gap. Specifically, I will be treating lights and lighting, sound and music, the Nuremberg Party Rallies, radio, and cinema from a rhetorical perspective. The rhetorical framework I have constructed to analyze these elements relies on a synthesis of Richard Weaver’s Tyrannizing Image and Kenneth Burke’s Terministic Screen concepts. Burke provides an important connection to visual rhetoric while Weaver provides links to culture, myth, and history.The ultimate goal of this thesis is to show how the rhetorical theories of Kenneth Burke and Richard Weaver can be used to explain the Nazis’ persuasion tactics. Aristotle demanded that rhetors “know all available means of persuasion,” and obviously, technological devices have rhetorical value. To prove this, I have relied as much as possible on primary sources, especially the autobiographies of former Nazis and Hitler’s Mein Kampf, but the Hitler biographers (Joachim Fest, Robert Waite, and John Toland) have also proved their usefulness. While this thesis is not an exhaustive treatment of the subject, it at least sows the field with seeds of thought. I do not address either the printed propaganda of Nazism or the speeches of Hitler or Goebbels. I examine instead the rhetorical devices and methods used by the Nazis to reinforce these types of persuasion.

Burke, rhetoric, Weaver, Nazi, propaganda, Nuremburg