Style and the "Scribbling Women": An Empirical Analysis of Nineteenth-Century American Fiction


Derogation of nineteenth-century women novelists was often the immediate response to their works. While modern feminist scholarship has repudiated this view of "scribbling women," many critics and academics remain uninformed and continue to present a largely male canon for this period. The present work undertakes an empirical test of stereotypical notions about nineteenth-century fiction, utilizing the computer to examine 80,000 words of running text from passages randomly chosen in twenty novels each by women and men. This material is analyzed for occurrences of various aspects of writing style, such as similes, parallel structures, rhetorical devices, certain adverbs and adjectives, and sentence length and complexity. That these findings show no overwhelming gender differences should finally put to rest negative stereotypes about nineteenth-century women writers.

Additional information


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.