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The Language of Defendants in the 17 th -Century English Courtroom

A Socio-Pragmatic Analysis of the Prisoners’ Interactional Role and Representation

Elisabetta Cecconi

This volume analyses the defence system in the 17 th -century English courtroom and sees how defendants attempted to construct their discourse identity and articulate their defence in the arraignment section and in the evidence phase of the trial. Drawing upon theories from socio-pragmatics and (critical) discourse analysis the book investigates the complex face-work dynamics operating between defendants and professionals/witnesses, the main defence strategies adopted in the evidence phase and – at the author-readership discourse level – the way in which Royalist defendants were represented in Royalist accounts in the turbulent years of the Civil War. The author draws on a rich variety of trial texts: from high treason to religious subversion, from murder to felony and misdemeanour. In each case the defendant’s discourse behaviour is scrutinised in relation to historical, socio-cultural and institutional variables.
In its double focus on the defendants’ interactional role in the trial and their representation in Royalist accounts, the book offers a valuable reading for historical courtroom linguists, legal historians and researchers in the field of language, ideology and political propaganda in the early modern period.

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Chapter 1 The 17th-century English courtroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 1.1 Objects of analysis and the approach taken . . . . . . . . . 11 1.2 An outline of historical pragmatics and socio-pragmatics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 1.3 Problems of data and methodology in historical pragmatics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 1.4 Primary objectives of the study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 1.5 A description of my dataset . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 1.6 Features of the 17th-century courtroom . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 1.7 Previous literature in the field of EmodE courtroom discourse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Part one The interactional role of defendants in 17th-century trial texts Chapter 2 Defendants and professionals: verbal duelling in the arraignment section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 2.1 Object and aims of the analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 2.2 Theoretical considerations: power and impoliteness . . 52 2.3 Request-types in the arraignment section . . . . . . . . . . . 69 2.4 The dynamics of requests in the arraignment section . . 80 2.5 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 8 Table of contents Chapter 3 Defence construction in the evidence phase . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 3.1 Forms of defence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 3.2 Quantitative and qualitative analysis of representatives and directives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125 3.3 Defence strategies: challenge, redefinition and reconstruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 3.4 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 Part two The representation of defendants in treason cases Chapter 4 Representation of defendants as a form of political propaganda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 4.1 Objects and aims of the analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 4.2 The trial of Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford (1641) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 4.3 The trial of James Duke of Hamilton and earl of Cambridge (1649) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180 4.4 The trial of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury (1644) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194 4.5 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233 9Acknowledgements The present work is based on a number of studies presented at national...

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