Lexico-grammatical portraits of vulnerable women in war: the 1641 Depositions

Nicci MacLeod, Barbara Fennell

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The 1641 Depositions are testimonies collected from (mainly Protestant) witnesses documenting their experiences of the Irish uprising that began in October 1641. As news spread across Europe of the events unfolding in Ireland, reports of violence against women became central to the ideological construction of the barbarism of the Catholic rebels. Against a backdrop of women’s subordination and firmly defined gender roles, this article investigates the representation of women in the Depositions, creating what we have termed “lexico-grammatical portraits” of particular categories of woman. In line with other research dealing with discursive constructions in seventeenth-century texts, a corpus-assisted discourse analytical approach is taken. Adopting the assumptions of Critical Discourse Analysis, the discussion is extended to what the findings reveal about representations of the roles of women, both in the reported events and in relation to the dehumanisation of the enemy in atrocity propaganda more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-290
JournalJournal of Historical Pragmatics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

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