Methodological and practical aspects of historical network analysis: A case study of the Bluestocking letters

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This paper presents the reconstruction and analysis of Elizabeth Montagu’s Bluestocking network, and proposes a network strength scale (NSS) for quantifying the strength of network ties in this eighteenth-century English social circle. The NSS scores are compared with the use of pied piping and preposition stranding in the network’s correspondence in order to see whether strong network ties correlate positively with the use of a familiar and stigmatised linguistic feature. Preposition stranding was more common in Elizabeth Montagu’s letters when the recipients were linked to her with strong ties and were socially below her. Preposition stranding was avoided and pied piping favoured when the recipients were her social superiors. The NSS analysis thus benefits from the inclusion of sociolinguistic variables.


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