20th Century: A World Transformed

Was it the leaders of the 20th Century that shaped a modern world OR perhaps a modern world shaped the leaders of the 20th Century

Despite distinctly obvious cultural, moral, and ethical differences, Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi were defining modern nationalistic leaders of the transforming 20th Century.

Interestingly enough, although on opposite sides of the globe, Gandhi and Hitler lead successful mass political movements during the interwar period (1920-1929) and acknowledge similar experiences & insights regarding their dissatisfaction with their contemporary.

Why is this?

Idealogical and cultural transformations within the interwar period presented a new modern world connected by the shared experiences and insights of the destruction of World War 1, European Imperialism, and the Great Depression. The interwar period showcased the end of an old era and a transition towards modernity, leaving a vulnerable society in search of a better future produced by strong leaders. Historical context of the interwar period and the conditions that enabled modern leadership offers us a understanding and perspective of the era as a whole.

Showcasing Trends Through Textual Analysis

As contemporary digital tools open the doors for enhanced research abilities and new discovery

Acknowledging the historical context of the interwar period, I was curious to see these trends from the words of the leaders themselves. For this Digital Humanities in particular, I examine the textual colorations between Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Mahatma Gandhi An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth and Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule to showcase visually identifiable themes that reflect the transforming 20th century.

Note: these sources were chosen because they were written around the same time and reflect the same message of nationalistic charismatic leadership of the 20th century despite the moral standing/ cultural values of the character themselves

Visually Identifiable Themes:

  • Nationalism
    • Words that reference nation/state identity
      • ex: “nation”, “state”, “germany”, “india”
  • Revolution
    • Words that reference revolution
      • ex: “revolution”, “free”, “swaraj”
  • Common Identity
    • Words that reference a sense of group identity with shared background/ values
      • ex: “indians”, “germans”, community”, “friends”
  • Foreign Threat
    • Words that reference the unification against a common external enemy
      • ex: “jew”, “englishmen”, “marxist”
  • Cultural Past
    • Words that reference a cultural/ historic past
      • ex: “race”, “hind”, “war”, “aryan”, “mahomedans”
  • Religon
    • Words that reference religion/ spirit
      • ex: “god”, “evil”, “spirit”
  • Modernity
    • Words that reference the contemporary changing world
      • ex: “modern”, “awakening”, “new”
  • Certainty
    • Words that reference confidence/ certainty of outcome
      • ex: “certain”, “vow”, “surely”

Positive vs. Negative Rhetorical Analysis

  • Negative Words
    • Stress human fears and contemporary horrors
    • Showcase extreme dissatisfaction with present condition
      • ex: “fear”, “struggle”, “violence”, “slavery
  • Positive Words
    • Call for a brighter future of progress
    • Certainty of Utopian outcomes
      • ex: “great”, “peace”, “love”, “strength”