The purpose of this project is to identify expressions that reflect visuality in George Eliot’s fiction with the aid of corpus methodology. The Victorian period is often characterised as a visually orientated era and a great deal of scholarly work connects the theme of visuality to the idea of realism in George Eliot’s writings .We will focus on observation, or gaze, in a rather narrow sense. In particular, we study the explicit mentioning of gaze in three novels, Adam Bede, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda, where by explicit mention we mean the use of verbs and nouns like look, gaze, watch, as well as many others, as listed in appendix 1. The rationale behind this approach is familiar from linguistic studies using a corpus methodology, namely the advantages offered by looking at large amounts of text in a comprehensive way, with the possibility of observing repeated patterns of language use in a way that may not be possible even under careful reading and re-reading of texts. In fact, the most common corpus linguistic tool, the concordance, introduces a radically different way of approaching a text. Thus, as pointed out by Tognini-Bonelli (2001:3), whereas reading in the normal case is horizontal and sequential, a concordance offers a vertical view of a text where recurring words and patterns are presented one on top of the other. Concretely, for this study, a concordance offers the possibility of studying, say, all the occurrences of the verb look and to observe features in the contexts of each use.
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