Combining statistical modelling and archival study, English and Empire investigates how African diasporic, Chinese, and Indian characters have been voiced in British fiction and drama produced between 1768 and 1929. The analysis connects patterns of linguistic representation to changes in the imperial political economy, to evolving language ideologies that circulate in the Anglophone world, and to shifts in sociocultural anxieties that crosscut race and empire. In carrying out his investigation, David West Brown makes the case for a methodological approach that links the distant (quantitative) and close (qualitative) reading of diverse digital artefacts. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the book will appeal to a variety of scholars and students including sociolinguists interested in historical language variation, as well as literary scholars interested in postcolonial studies and the digital humanities.
1. Introduction; 2. Literary dialect, race, and empire; 3. Corpus design; 4. An overview of data and the digital toolkit; 5. Case 1: African diasporic dialogue; 6. Case 2: Indian dialogue; 7. Case 3: Chinese dialogue; 8. The enduring power of mimicry and the politics of measurement.
David West Brown is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Marymount University, Virginia. His research examines writing as a social practice, its structures, and its history, covering topics ranging from Singaporean identity performance in online discussion boards, to representations of gender in sports reportage, to the stylistic differences between higher and lower scoring essays on educational assessments. He is author of In Other Words: Lessons on Grammar, Code-Switching, and Academic Writing (2009).
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