StyleandChronology_MainDocument_RevisedMarch2018.pdf (394.08 kB)
Style and chronology: a stylometric investigation of Aphra Behn’s dramatic style and the dating of The Young King
journal contributionposted on 2018-04-20, 10:23 authored by Mel Evans
Aphra Behn’s dramatic outputs are recognised for their diversity and responsiveness to trends in Restoration drama. A stylometric approach is used to investigate the linguistic dimension of Behn’s dramatic style, with a particular focus on evidence of chronological change. Quantitative analysis (most frequent words, function words, zeta) suggest that Behn’s drama falls into three periods. A qualitative analysis indicates that the periodisation may reflect a change in the construction of Behn’s dramatic worlds, from an abstract psychological focus to a more grounded, interactive and social representation. The study considers the problematic dating of Behn’s tragi-comedy The Young King. Although critical opinion holds that this play was the first that Behn wrote (i.e. pre-1670), the stylometric analysis suggests that Behn heavily revised, or indeed, penned, the drama in the mid-to-late 1670s, mid-way through her writing career. The paper demonstrates the potential for stylochronometric techniques to complement other linguistic approaches to style, and enhance our understanding of how literary writing evolves.
This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council [AH/N007573/1].
CitationLanguage and Literature, 2018, 27(2), pp. 103 - 132
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of Arts
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)