Representing Recent Lives in the Dictionary of National Biography

Location:
Alun 1.01, Alun Building
Time:
Wednesday 20 March 2019, 16:00–17:00
Presenter:
School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics
Contact:
Dr Karin Koehler

Representing Recent Lives in the Dictionary of National Biography

The Dictionary of National Biography (1885–1900) is often thought of as a monumental project (and it did fill 66 volumes!), but it was also disproportionately focused on recent and Victorian lives, people who were still present in living memory. How did the DNB editors and contributors deal with writing definitive accounts of lives that had only recently passed away?  This paper uses corpus linguistic methods to analyse how the 1819 birth cohort – which includes Queen Victoria and many other important individuals – was represented. It compares the almost 200 entries on this birth year group with the DNB overall, to trace how these recent lives were written about differently from more distant lives. It shows that gender particularly affected the way they were understood as individuals and fashioned as a generation.

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