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A critical stylistic analysis of the textual meanings of 'feminism', 'feminist(s)' and 'feminist' in UK national newspapers, 2000-2009

Evans, Matthew (2016) A critical stylistic analysis of the textual meanings of 'feminism', 'feminist(s)' and 'feminist' in UK national newspapers, 2000-2009. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

This thesis is a critical stylistic analysis of the meanings of the lexemes „feminism‟, „feminist(s)‟ and„feminist‟ in UK national newspapers, 2000-2009. It uses the textual-conceptual functions set out in Jeffries (2010a) to investigate the linguistic contexts in which these lexemes occur within the data in order to assess to what extent the movement, the people who represent it, and things that are described as feminist are imbued with different textually constructed meanings.

The analysis tests previous studies‟ findings concerning portrayals of feminism and feminists
in the media. Expanding on and responding to this research, this study reports on five main findings:

 „Feminism‟, „feminist(s)‟ and „feminist‟ have positive, as well as negative, meanings.
 „Feminism‟ and „feminists‟ are a western phenomenon, with different types in the past and
present.
 „Feminism‟ has a complex meaning, with no single, universal definition and a variety of types.
 „Feminism‟ is presented as having undergone changes in meaning, as antonymous to other
ideas and containing opposed meanings.
 Portrayals of „feminism‟ are complex, with articles recognising and contesting different
meanings of the lexemes.
These findings both confirm and question previous studies, which have argued that feminism and
feminists are portrayed negatively in newspaper texts. It provides linguistic evidence to support claims made by other non-linguistic studies of the same genre and time period: that portrayals of feminism are “fragmented” (Mendes, 2011a, p. 49) and that they present feminism as consisting of approved and disapproved types (Dean, 2010).
I also discuss the lexemes „feminism‟, „feminist(s)‟ and „feminist‟ in with regard to contested meaning, using critical stylistic tools to analyse how newspaper articles textually construct different meanings of the lexemes, and explicitly discuss and compare different definitions. The thesis argues that the analysis of textual meaning can be used to explore how the meanings of a lexeme or set of lexemes that “involve ideas and values” (Williams, 1983, p. 17) are constructed in a variety of ways
through the linguistic context in which they occur. I also reflect on the usefulness of the textualconceptual functions in the manual analysis of a large dataset, identifying ways in which an analysis that seeks to provide as full as possible an account of the textual construction of meaning can produce findings not possible through other means of analysis

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Sharon Beastall
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2016 11:43
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2016 15:03
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/30184

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