Ouvrage auteur unique
Résumé : Hitherto, the language of the Methodist revival has received only moderate, and mainly descriptive, attention. A present-day study should move beyond description and approach the phenomenon from a «critical» angle, thus allowing the linguist to assess the indictments which have branded Methodist discourse as manipulative. Critics have stereotyped Methodism as an oppressive, reactionary discourse forced upon illiterate audiences by insidious rhetorical devices. The guiding hypothesis which underlies such analyses seems to be that the success of Methodism, if any, was not a natural and voluntary response to a religious appeal, but the effect of a deliberate, manipulative process which cynically sought to trick people into a belief system which conditioned their world-view and behaviour patterns, allegedly on behalf of industrial interests which required an obedient and submissive work force. The investigation of the workings of Methodist discourse in its many textualised and non-textualised aspects allows one to understand the widespread popular impact of the movement in both linguistic and extralinguistic terms. The discourse analysis which constitutes the bulk of this study shows that Methodism in its early Wesleyan stage was remarkably efficient in providing a multi-modal discourse which managed to reach the working classes and to answer their needs and aspirations. The widespread popular response to the message in certain areas may be explained in terms of natural audience motivation, and there is little if any ground, notwithstanding Wesley's particular use of language and his explicitly conservative attitude, to hypothesize a deliberate manipulative socio-political intent on the part of the Wesleyans. The critical analysis shows that Wesley's discourse did, however, contain the seeds of a work ethic which lay the message open to misunderstanding and misuse in post-Wesleyan Methodism. Under the influence of increasing embourgeoisement and denominational self-interest, some branches of later Methodism progressively abandoned the Wesleyan perspective, and may be suspected of sustaining capitalist interests in some parts of their discourse; but the Methodist revival as a whole cannot be indicted with intentional manipulation of the working masses.