Historical pragmatics and the American Declaration of Independence

Yuille, Vanessa Noel (2014) Historical pragmatics and the American Declaration of Independence. MRes thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Research on the American Declaration of Independence has predominantly taken the form of textual criticism, wherein the chief aim is the approximation of an archetype or autograph of the text and whereby variants are useful only insofar as they are capable of indicating likely features of the archetype or autograph. The present study moves in the opposite direction: rather than using later texts to arrive at an understanding of an earlier version, the study begins in 1776 and follows the text—from its first authorised reprint in book form to a mid-nineteenth-century political campaign pamphlet and on to an early-twentieth-century internationalist volume—to learn whether and how variations in the text’s form reflect changes its function over time.

This study draws on qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis to examine bibliographical and textual evidence which manifest the pragmatics of the textual encounter. The first texts analysed are the ‘Original Rough Draught’ and the Dunlap broadside, examined here with the primary aim of establishing a basic profile of features present in the Declaration as it was originally encountered—first by Congress and then by the public. Quantitative measures are also employed, utilising basic methods of computer-assisted text analysis (concordance and collocation) to observe possible associations between words. These same qualitative and quantitative methods are then applied to three later versions of the Declaration and to the text and paratext which accompany them. The findings derived therefrom are then contextualised within broader historical trends in the ways individuals have received, analysed and shared texts.

Item Type: Thesis (MRes)
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Declaration of Independence, historical pragmatics, pragmaphilology, punctuation, text analysis
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Smith, Prof. Jeremy J.
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Ms Vanessa N Yuille
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-6390
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2015 15:10
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2015 15:15
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6390

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