Pronouns

Pronouns

The last week has been all systems go on a number of fronts, different fronts each pulling in different directions! This has included: much work by Emilia with support from me on Google Analytics to set up a series of reports on usage of the Olive Schreiner Letters Online, me going over the latest incarnation of the WWW research draft-website at HRI in exhaustive detail to give feedback on it (the search and visualisation aspects are still causing us problems), making changes to a couple of articles accepted for publication subject to some revision, writing a new postgraduate course on social theory and, last but by no means least, doing a lot of work on the 1871 David Forbes diary and all the 1871 letters either by or to the said David Forbes.

This latter has involved both of us, and we have been deeply engrossed in the use of pronouns in the diary and letters, comparing these two different genres of writing, and also comparing the different letter-writers. Whenever I’m reading anything at the moment, I find myself losing the sense of it and instead focusing on how it uses I/me, you, we/us, she/he and her/him, they/them. Why? As well as being interested in these two different genres of writing, diaries and letters and how pronouns position people in them, more generally the use of pronouns points up relational factors. These are not just ways of referring to a person here and a person there, but signal how the writer or speaker is positioning everybody being referred to in relation to each other. So it’s relationality that we’re pursuing and the clues this gives about figuration within the unfolding sociogenesis as depicted in these writings. But why? There is a Norbert Elias conference in Brussels in December, where we will be presenting a joint paper. In this, and by reference to the Forbes diary and letters of 1871, we will dispute Elias on what he calls the ‘We-I’, and instead develop Elias on pronouns, a topic which he discusses in a preliminary way in What is Sociology?

Last updated:  16 August 2018


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