Chapter published in:Reference and Identity in Public Discourses
Edited by Ursula Lutzky and Minna Nevala
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 306] 2019
► pp. 67–96
“Right trusty and well-beloved”
The socio-pragmatics of gender, power and stance in sixteenth-century English letters
The paper investigates how high-ranking early modern women letter-writers negotiated the social tension between their subordinate position as women, and their positions of power, in the linguistic construction of their epistolary identities. We focus on the letters of four Tudor women: Kathryn Parr, Mary I, Elizabeth I and Elizabeth Talbot. We consider how each woman’s use of self-reference compares with contemporary epistolary theory and practice, interpreted using the concept of stance which offers a way of understanding how indexical meaning arises from the convergence of multiple linguistic forms in particular contexts. Our analysis finds that scribal status and recipient rank shape the women’s linguistic choices, and that gender is a significant, but not the only, dimension of their epistolary identities.
Keywords: stance, gender, early modern women, correspondence, self-reference, address forms, pronouns, register
Published online: 21 October 2019
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