Cordials and sharp satyrs

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Expressions of stance are considered to be a basic resource for the study of identities (Ochs 1996; Bucholtz & Hall 2005; Jaffe 2009). In this paper I look at stance-taking in eighteenth-century English correspondence as intentional self-fashioning (as per Greenblatt 1980) and identity performance, explored through address terms, first- and second-person mental verb phrases, intertextuality, and verbal irony. Elizabeth Montagu (née Robinson 1718–1800) and Lady Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, the Duchess of Portland (1715–1785) observe eighteenth-century epistolary formalities in their use of address terms and references to self and the other, but intertextuality and verbal irony enable Montagu (of lower status) to express ambiguous criticism and subversive attitudes. The study presents a multifaceted approach to stance-taking in historical texts.


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