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Browsing by Author "Oakes, Elizabeth Ann"

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  • Oakes, Elizabeth Ann (2017)
    The present inquiry analyzes the styles of three speculative fiction authors central to the genre in the 1960s and 1970s in terms of their representations of altered consciousness. The style in which altered states are represented is indicative of the author's, and perhaps her culture's, understanding of human consciousness, and thematic nuance in a novel may be related to the stylistic specifics of representation of default and altered states. This study compares the depictions of altered and default states of consciousness in six short stories in order to elucidate both features particular to the authors’ individual styles and common features in representations of consciousness. Of special interest are the ways in which these states are formulated linguistically: How do authors position themselves relative to altered states lexically and syntactically? How do these patterned representations relate to the broader themes in a piece of short fiction? What can content analysis programs, software designed to detect and categorize lexical and rhetorical patterns, tell us about shifts in an author's language that might not be readily accessible even to the trained reader? This study combines a quantitative, computational approach with a qualitative, stylistically framed reading. The computational reading guides and focuses the stylistic analysis. Computers are suited to detecting patterns within a text and systematically marking all occurrences. Computational analysis allows for swift, relatively thorough comparison of particular patterns in multiple texts. Content and rhetorical analysis software codes text based on dictionaries, human compiled in the case of this study. Essentially, different dictionaries allow researchers to view texts divided into lexical and phrasal categories determined by a specific theory. For this study, William Lowe's Yoshikoder loaded with Colin Martindale's Regressive Imagery Dictionary and David Kaufer's DocuScope 3.21 were selected. Throughout the analysis, demonstrating the connection of linguistic shifts and stylistic choices to the texts' themes is emphasized, illustrating thematic patterning on the word and sentence level. This study demonstrates that each author possesses a unique style calibrated to anchor her theme at the rhetorical level. Nevertheless, proportional relationships of certain lexical categories common to portrayal of altered states in all studied authors point to a shared underlying understanding of the nature and quality of altered consciousness.