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Conflicts in Early Modern Scottish Letters and Law-Courts


Leitner, Magdalena. Conflicts in Early Modern Scottish Letters and Law-Courts. 2015, University of Glasgow, Faculty of Arts.

Abstract

Scottish letters and court-records from the late 16th and early 17th centuries give access to a rich variety of conflicts, ranging from international disputes to everyday spats. This thesis investigates verbal offences reported by correspondents or recorded as legal evidence. Current models of (im)politeness (Culpeper, 2011a, Spencer-Oatey, e.g. 2005), which have rarely been tested on historical data, are synthesized with insights from historical pragmatics. The aims are to create qualitative reconstructions of how participants communicated their period- and situation-specific understandings of verbal offences, and how their expressed perceptions were shaped by private and public dimensions of different contexts. This thesis thus addresses three comparatively understudied aspects of (im)politeness research: historical impoliteness, Scottish (im)politeness, and the examination of private-public aspects of social interactions. Regarding the third point, a multi-dimensional framework is developed for systematic descriptions of private-public dimensions of conflict-situations, remodelling an existing pragmatic approach to news discourse (Landert and Jucker, 2011). Letters are drawn from the Breadalbane Collection, 1548-1583 (Dawson, 2004/2007) and James VI’s correspondence. Court-records are selected from editions of Justice Court papers and Kirk Session minutes.
Case studies reveal that the vocabulary and discursive structure of conflict-narratives in letters is largely distinct from reported offences in court-records. Differences are presumably influenced by the genres’ contrasting contextual functions of more private versus more public conflict-settlement. However, the language of conflict-letters and court-records also shows shared moral and religious dimensions. Furthermore, verbal offences in the investigated letters and lawsuits refer primarily to collective identity-aspects of group-membership and social roles, while purely individual qualities appear to have been marginal. The perceived gravity of offence could be intensified by participants’ notions of private and public in multiple ways.

Abstract

Scottish letters and court-records from the late 16th and early 17th centuries give access to a rich variety of conflicts, ranging from international disputes to everyday spats. This thesis investigates verbal offences reported by correspondents or recorded as legal evidence. Current models of (im)politeness (Culpeper, 2011a, Spencer-Oatey, e.g. 2005), which have rarely been tested on historical data, are synthesized with insights from historical pragmatics. The aims are to create qualitative reconstructions of how participants communicated their period- and situation-specific understandings of verbal offences, and how their expressed perceptions were shaped by private and public dimensions of different contexts. This thesis thus addresses three comparatively understudied aspects of (im)politeness research: historical impoliteness, Scottish (im)politeness, and the examination of private-public aspects of social interactions. Regarding the third point, a multi-dimensional framework is developed for systematic descriptions of private-public dimensions of conflict-situations, remodelling an existing pragmatic approach to news discourse (Landert and Jucker, 2011). Letters are drawn from the Breadalbane Collection, 1548-1583 (Dawson, 2004/2007) and James VI’s correspondence. Court-records are selected from editions of Justice Court papers and Kirk Session minutes.
Case studies reveal that the vocabulary and discursive structure of conflict-narratives in letters is largely distinct from reported offences in court-records. Differences are presumably influenced by the genres’ contrasting contextual functions of more private versus more public conflict-settlement. However, the language of conflict-letters and court-records also shows shared moral and religious dimensions. Furthermore, verbal offences in the investigated letters and lawsuits refer primarily to collective identity-aspects of group-membership and social roles, while purely individual qualities appear to have been marginal. The perceived gravity of offence could be intensified by participants’ notions of private and public in multiple ways.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation
Referees:Kytö Merja, Wiggins Alison
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:23 May 2015
Deposited On:28 Jan 2016 11:31
Last Modified:17 Aug 2017 11:07
Number of Pages:280
Funders:College of Arts Scholarship, University of Glasgow, Historical Thesaurus of the OED Scholarship, University of Glasgow
Additional Information:The thesis will not be uploaded onto ZORA because it has not been published yet. It will be made publicly available through the University of Glasgow's Thesis Service in 2018 (after the embargo has expired).

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