Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Epigraph

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface: Fighting Words

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pp. ix-xx

Scholars of the humanities love words. We work in, on, and with the written word; practice what Friedrich Nietzsche termed “connoisseurship of the word”; are wordsmiths or wish to be; labor over documents composed, as Hamlet archly puts it, of “words, words, words”; debate the meaning of...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxi-xxii

Like all books, this one depends on the work of others to a degree that its author cannot fully fathom. Some of this work is technical as well as intellectual. The corpus linguists Mark Davies (byu.corpus.edu) and Andrew Hardie (cqpweb.lancs.ac.uk) have built research tools that can do things...

Methods

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1. Linguistic Forms

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pp. 25-52

Imagine that two centuries from now scholars of literature and culture still exist, and you are a twenty-third-century scholar of that period of English and American cultural history that strangely described itself as “late modernity.” Reading through the messy, recondite, and frequently toxic...

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2. Search

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pp. 53-82

Allow me to propose a rough schematization of the last seventy-five years of literary scholarship. New Criticism was the study of the singular. Its key concern was the formal unity and integrity of the literary work as a cultural artifact, a well-wrought urn that it submitted to modes of attention and...

Studies

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3. Was It for This? and the Study of Influence

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pp. 85-119

Harold Bloom’s question in The Anxiety of Influence (1973) is at once derisive and prophetic. Derision is directed at the intellectual wage laborers who perform the nearly mechanical task of recording the way words and phrases, plots and characters, formulas and conventions move between literary...

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4. Act as If and Useful Fictions

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pp. 120-151

In a letter to the editor of the black newspaper the Weekly Louisianian, on 8 November 1879, a correspondent identified as “a Republican Scout” with the pen name Irrepressible proposes a strategy for achieving electoral victory in the precinct of Orleans.1 After advising the party to put aside favoritism...

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5. WWJD? and the History of Imitatio Christi

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pp. 152-175

Over the past twenty years, WWJD? and the question it abbreviates, What would Jesus do?, have become prominent features of American culture, appearing on book covers, buttons, bracelets, blue jeans, board games, bumper stickers, teddy bears, T-shirts, ties, key chains, coffee mugs, pencils, and even...

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6. Milton’s Depictives and the History of Style

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pp. 176-212

When English speakers say She drove drunk or He cooked naked or I walked home alone, they use the adjectives that linguists call subject-oriented depictive secondary predicates, or depictives for short.1 Though these adjectives modify the subject of the sentence, they are part of the predicate and syntactically...

Conclusions

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7. Shakespeare’s Constructicon

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pp. 215-233

Shakespeare’s works have long been the sandbox of philologists, historical linguists, and especially lexicographers, who for more than two centuries have produced an impressive array of general and specialized dictionaries, glossaries, lexicons, and Wörterbucher. David and Ben Crystal’s Shakespeare’s...

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8. God Is Dead, Long Live Philology

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pp. 234-248

The previous chapters of this book employ a vocabulary, an idiom, and indeed a repertoire of forms associated with empirical philological inquiry. They set out to define the abstract sign units I have called linguistic forms as objects of knowledge and to show that they warrant historical and cultural...

Notes

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pp. 249-306

Index

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pp. 307-316