The public representation of homosexual men in seventeenth-century England:a corpus based view

McEnery, Anthony Mark and Baker, Helen Samantha (2017) The public representation of homosexual men in seventeenth-century England:a corpus based view. Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics, 3 (2). ISSN 2199-2908

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Abstract

In this article we explore public discourse around one marginalized group in early-modern English society, men who engaged in sexual relations with other males. To do this we use a large corpus of seventeenth century texts, the Early English Books Online corpus. Our exploration leads us to consider a number of methodological issues, notably low frequency data and the classical framing of some words. We consider the historical context which brings this about, the impact of such data on our study and the importance of close reading in understanding words in discourse. In addition, we show that, even where frequency does not seem to be an issue, close reading, guided by corpus analysis, is vital in allowing the analyst to move past a superficial analysis of the data towards an understanding of the conventions attached to the use of words which appear to reference men who have sex with men in this period. Through such analyses, this paper sheds light on the typically negative meanings associated with this group in early modern England, and provides both challenge and refinement to existing lexicography, both modern and early modern, relating to the group in this period.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300
Subjects:
ID Code:
86805
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
21 Jun 2017 09:04
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2020 03:37