Impoliteness in women’s specialised writing in seventeenth-century English
The notion of impoliteness may not trigger prompt associations with earlier women writing, especially non-fiction, in the pre-scientific period. Evidence drawn from seventeenth-century scientific and technical writings reveals that women make use of impoliteness strategies in order to claim and delineate their place within their community of practice. In our texts, we have detected that membership to communities of practice justifies the women’s use of positive impoliteness and sarcasm devices. Interestingly, the stereotypical female weakness represents a source for sarcastic speech, as this may offer women writers a protective shield against male critical stance. Negative impoliteness seems to be potentially related to establish power relationships and position in relation to knowledge. The idea is that scientific and technical contributions should be impartially appraised without considering the sex of the author. Impoliteness appears to be a potential means of legitimising women writers’ voices.
Keywords: community of practice, impoliteness, stance, women’s writing
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Published online: 23 November 2021
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