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Braddon's Body of Bigamy: A Corpus Stylistics Analysis

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abstract
This project uses corpus stylistics to examine discursive patterns that interact with surface-level character cliches (represented through physical appearance or role in the plot) that Victorian critics discuss in published reviews. More specifically, this project examines how syntactic repetition in sensation author Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s bigamy novels uncovers insight into characters’ perceptions of each other, capturing a new depth of characterization despite critics’ complaints of banality. To explore these inquiries, chapter one compares collocates (words that correlate in any order), concordances (words that repeat in the same order), and n-grams (frequently repeated phrases) related to body language in Braddon’s most famous bigamy novels (Lady Audley’s Secret and Aurora Floyd), arguing that the bigamists’ beauty controls male characters’ reactions and subsequent characterizations. Chapter two studies the same linguistic features in Braddon’s full bigamy corpus, now concluding that the cliches do not, on their own, offer a full picture of characterization; instead, they become conduits for understanding the reflexive reactions that connect characters across cliches. These findings indicate that Braddon’s later novels subtly respond to complaints of repetition, even if the cliches remain prominent on the surface. Finally, chapter three discusses a pedagogical rationale for incorporating corpus stylistics into the classroom.
subject
Bigamy
Corpus Stylistics
Linguistics
Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Sensation Fiction
contributor
Waxman, Meara Leiah (author)
Jenkins, Melissa (committee chair)
Holdridge, Jefferson (committee member)
Lancaster, Zak (committee member)
date
2021-06-03T08:35:52Z (accessioned)
2021 (issued)
degree
English (discipline)
2026-06-01 (liftdate)
embargo
2026-06-01 (terms)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/98781 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
Braddon's Body of Bigamy: A Corpus Stylistics Analysis
type
Thesis

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