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upcoming lectures and presentations

I am very excited to be giving a paper at the CHINED VI conference in Sheffield in June 2017. The paper is called Style and Genre in the Early French Press and the abstract is below.


The aim of this paper is to reflect on style and genre in the early French press. The research is part of a larger project called The Origins and Evolution of Journalistic French: The History of a Genre and the History of the Language. Until this project, there had been only isolated analyses of historical periodicals by historians of the French language (e.g. Ayres-Bennett 1996: 207-11, 2004: 82-108, Lodge 2004: 171-90). This project was therefore designed as the first large-scale systematic linguistic study of historical French news discourse. It is based on quantitative and qualitative analyses of a 500,000-word corpus that was compiled specifically for this study. The corpus covers the period from the publication of the first French-language periodical to have had long-term success (the Gazette de France founded in 1631) to the French Revolution (1789). It consists of five publications, all of which can be considered generalist: two gazettes (the Gazette de France and the Gazette d’Amsterdam), the first learned periodical (the Journal des savans), a lighter review (the Mercure galant) and the first daily newspaper (the Journal de Paris). This project makes contributions to two different fields: historical genre studies and historical (French) linguistics.


The paper that I will present starts with an overview of the larger project, outlining both its aims and its methodology. I then present summaries of the results of a series of case studies that I have carried out concerning the use of different linguistic features in the corpus. The features concerned come from a variety of different linguistic levels. Strikingly, however, the results of all of the case studies point to what have emerged as two important features of historical French newswriting as represented by my corpus. The first is that at the very outset, with the appearance of the first periodical publications, there was great stylistic uniformity in the journalistic genre. The second is that the middle of the eighteenth century saw a notable diversification of both journalistic style and the journalistic genre. I therefore use the final section of the paper to expand the perspective from the linguistic data to include the socio-cultural context in order to attempt to explain both of these crucial observations.


 Ayres-Bennett, W. (1996) A History of the French Language Through Texts, London, New York: Routledge.

—(2004) Sociolinguistic Variation in Seventeenth-Century France: Methodology and Case Studies, Cambridge: CUP.

Lodge, R. A. (2004) A Sociolinguistic History of Parisian French, Cambridge: CUP.




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