The War of Words
Title Details

362 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

18 colour. 3 b/w. 2 line. Illustrations

Series: Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series

Imprint: Royal Historical Society

The War of Words

The Language of British Elections, 1880-1914

by Luke Blaxill

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
A radical new approach to the political speeches delivered during this period.
The late nineteenth and early twentieth century have been widely eulogised as a "golden age" of popular platform oratory. This book considers the language of British elections - especially stump speeches - during this period. It employs a "big data" methodology inspired by computational linguistics, using text-mining to analyse over five million words delivered by Conservative, Liberal and Labour candidates in the nine elections that took place in this period. It systematically and authoritatively quantifies how and how far key issues, values, traditions and personalities manifested themselves in wider party discourse.
The author reassesses a number of central historical debates, arguing that historians have considerably underestimated the transformative impact of the 1883-5 reforms on rural party language, and the purchase of Joseph Chamberlain's Unauthorized Programme; that the centrality of Home Rule and Imperialism in the late 1880s and 1890s have been exaggerated; and that the New Liberalism's linguistic impact was relatively weak, failing to contain the message of the emerging Labour alternative.

LUKE BLAXILL gained his PhD in History and the Digital Humanities from Kings College, London, in 2012; he is currently College Lecturer in Modern British History at Hertford College, Oxford.
Introduction: the challenge of reintegration in political history
On method: text-mining, corpora and the historical study of language
The impact of reform: the general elections of 1880 and 1885
The impact of Home Rule: the general elections of 1886 and 1892
The impact of imperialism: the general elections of 1895 and 1900
The impact of New Liberalism: the general elections of 1906 and 1910
Conclusion: who won the war of words?
Appendix 1: Technical and methodological
Appendix 2: Statistical
Bibliography
"Deserves to be seminal...Its attempt to domesticate the apparently fearsome field of computational linguistics deserves to reach a wide audience, and modern British political historians are lucky that it has landed in their field." REVIEWS IN HISTORY

Hardcover

9780861933549

April 2020

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Ebook (EPDF)

9781787446205

April 2020

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Title Details

362 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

18 colour. 3 b/w. 2 line. Illustrations

Series: Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series

Imprint: Royal Historical Society