The Study of Stylistics to Feminist Enquiry
This study aims to describe a form of analysis which here has termed ‘feminist stylistics’. Both the ‘feminist’ and the ‘stylistics’ parts of this phrase are complex and may have different meanings for readers. Nevertheless, the phrase itself is one which best sums up my concern first and foremost with an analysis which identifies itself as feminist and which uses linguistic or language analysis to examine texts. Feminist analysis aims to draw attention to and change the way that gender is represented, since it is clear that a great many of these representational practices are not in the interests of either women or men. Thus, feminist stylistic analysis is concerned not only to describe sexism in a text, but also to analyse the way that point of view, agency, metaphor, or transitivity are unexpectedly closely related to matters of gender, to discover whether women’s writing practices can be described, and so on. By close reading, using techniques from a range of linguistic and literary backgrounds, my aim is to present readers with a vocabulary to describe what is going on in texts and what is going on in the readers themselves when they read. When we read we do not always read suspiciously; we are used to certain types of messages and they often do not strike us as necessarily oppressive or pernicious. We often view language simply as a tool or as a vehicle for ideas, rather than as a material entity which may in fact shape those ideas.
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