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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16760

Title: Shakespeare's Telling Words: Grammar, Linguistic Encounters, and the Risks of Speech
Authors: Kolentsis, Alysia Michelle
Advisor: Magnusson, Lynne
Department: English
Keywords: Shakespeare
English language
literature
grammar
early modern English
modal verbs
early modern drama
Issue Date: 19-Jan-2009
Abstract: This dissertation analyzes undertheorized grammatical and linguistic details of Shakespeare’s language. Using tools derived from the fields of linguistics, pragmatics, and discourse analysis, I trace the ways that Shakespeare’s speakers represent themselves in language, and how they position themselves relative to their interlocutors. Grounding my study in a selection of Shakespeare’s works in which questions of self-positioning are particularly fraught, I argue that the nuances of grammar that undergird the linguistic performance of Shakespeare’s speakers encode significant clues about interaction and interpersonal relationships. I maintain that the minute details of linguistic encounters, easily overlooked words such as modal verbs (particularly shall and will) and deictic markers (words such as I, this, and now), hold important information about speakers’ perceptions of themselves, their interlocutors, and their environment. Attention to such details, and to charged moments of linguistic encounter in which speakers must negotiate their modes of self-positioning, helps to illuminate the troubled processes of self-representation and changing self-perception. Chapter one focuses on Shakespeare’s sonnets, and suggests that these poems provide a productive model for the examination of the nuances of speech and interactive dialogue. I anchor my discussion in the particular resonance of the word shall in the sonnets, and explore the ways in which the sonnet speaker attempts to preserve linguistic control relative to a threatening interlocutor. The second chapter extends these concerns to consider how the speakers of Troilus and Cressida respond to a wide network of potentially threatening interlocutors. In this chapter, I focus on linguistic encounters such as arguments and gossip to examine the risks that speakers encounter when they enter the fray of communal discourse. My third chapter turns to Coriolanus to consider moments of aggressive linguistic collisions, in which speakers vie for the right to speak a potent and contested word such as shall. The fourth and final chapter analyzes Richard II through the frame of deictic markers and grammatical modes of self-reference to consider the protective strategies afforded by language in moments of crisis.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16760
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of English - Doctoral theses

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