The Gendered Politics of Writing from 1770-1922

The digital humanities project that I chose to look into analyzed the use of pronouns in novels in the time period of 1770-1922. The goal of this project was to understand and identify the conceptions of gender and how they were expressed and changed through the reading and interpretations of readings of thousands of books.

The study began by looking at adjectives and the ways in which they were gendered. It was found that the adjectives with the highest positive difference were most closely associated with the strongest male pronouns. The complete opposite was found in relation to females, as the strongest female pronouns were associated with the highest negative difference.

Next, the study looked at the overall frequency of gendered pronouns. Female pronouns were used 33.2% of the time , and were used 52.8% of the time by female authors while male pronouns were used 66.8% of the time. Looking further into pronouns, the use of female subject pronouns occurred 32.5% of the time, and the use of male subject pronouns occurred 67.5% of the time. through this type of study, it was found that male pronouns were used more often in the subject, and female pronouns were used more often in the object.

The most interesting part of this research, in my perspective, was the discussion of median differences in the discussion of male related speech versus female related speech. Overall, it was found that male instances in novels occur every twelve or thirteen words for male authors and every 13 or 14 words for female authors. Female instances occurred every 72 or 73 words for male authors and every 30 or 31 words for female authors. The range of median differences, during this time period, for males was 30-45 words, while the range for females was 5,091-19,713 words. The study interpreted these statistics as evidence that male pronouns serve as agents more often than female pronouns do. It can also be due to the fact that female authors will often use The study also suggested that this factors into the ways in which male-centered novels exclude female characters while female-centered novels still have a male presence to some degree.

The evidence of pronoun use and median differences tell the reader a lot about the gendered politics of literature during this time period. It is also important to note that of the literature studied, 65% of the books were from male authors, 28% were from female authors, and 7% were from unknown authors. Of course these things carry some weight regarding the results found, but if anything what we see here is evidence that literature was more gendered for men in this time period than it was for women. Overall, male pronouns were used more often than female pronouns were in both the subjective and the objective, and men are discussed more often in the literature discussed. Even though women were staring to read and write more during this time period, their representation within those texts were still far outweighed by the representation still available for men in the books circulated and being read by the general public. I think this study is really important because it highlights the ways in which literature during this time period was created with men in mind more than they were with women. It is important that this information is accessible to all those that would like to read about it as it makes known the divide that novels have so often had in the past.

“Gender Novels.” Gender in Novels, 1770–1922,

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