"What are you doing here?" : stylistic variation in the construction of a preaching woman persona
- This study establishes the importance of persona in structuring variation in discourse. It examines the speech of African American preacher Dr. Claudette Copeland, as she speaks to an audience of several thousand women at a national conference for Women in Ministry. Dr. Claudette engages her audience in the well-known African American speech event, having church. This particular event is well known as a site for complex, multi-layered African American preaching, thus it provides the opportunity to examine the use of variation in stylistic performance. Dr. Claudette constructs a unique authoritative persona as a preacher, by combining the resources of pre-existing personae: the saintly woman, the seminary-trained preacher, and the black folk preacher. Each of these personae contributes a particular kind of authority and authenticity in the church. But her particular style profits from the inclusion of an additional, non-church persona, sistah-friend. This persona adds authenticity and solidarity as an equal and a sister, providing solidarity and authority with the particular trials, tribulations and interests of women in the church, allowing her to speak from a position of familiarity, strengthening her argument and legitimating her critique. I examine three quintessential features of African American Vernacular English (AAVE): (ay) monophthongization, rhoticity, and zero copula as they occur throughout the speech event. I compare alternative models of discursive organization as constraints on the use of these variables. I compare earlier models of black sermon structure as predictors of variation with the structure of persona structure. Specifically, the four personae that constitute Dr. Claudette's style are interspersed throughout the speech event, precluding a linear analysis. Employing Polanyi's Linguistic Discourse Model, I break the sermon down into Basic Discourse Units, and assign a persona to each unit based on criteria independent of the variation under study. Using regression analyses combining linguistic constraints with discourse models, I show that while the linear structure of the sermon does account for some patterns, the persona structure provides a more robust analysis overall.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Kortenhoven, Andrea Lawson
|Stanford University, Department of Linguistics.
|Rickford, John R, 1949-
|Rickford, John R, 1949-
|Statement of responsibility
|Andrea Lawson Kortenhoven.
|Submitted to the Department of Linguistics.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2017.
- © 2017 by Andrea Lorene Lawson Kortenhoven
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