Linguistics & Phonetics (3rd Year)
Representation in Rape Trials: A Linguistic Study of Historical & Contemporary Ideologies
This study looks at the representation of participants in rape trials and how their identities are constructed through language.
Firstly, an historical forensic linguistic approach is taken to investigate methods of selective reporting in trials of the Old Bailey Proceedings; specifically rape trials involving child victims. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, lexical and grammatical features are analysed with regard to the representations of defendant and victim. Contextual factors and myths of the time are considered in an attempt to account for some of these representations and the resulting verdicts.
The second part of the presentation focuses on representation and construction of blame in contemporary rape trials, using a mock jury deliberation to elicit student attitudes towards participants of two cases. Using a framework of Critical Discourse Analysis, the study aims to investigate attitudes towards female victims and, in particular, the effect of intoxication at the time of the alleged rape, looking at dominant social ideologies and their reproduction through linguistic features.
Both parts of the presentation aim to investigate myths and dominant beliefs surrounding the crime of rape and its presence both in the courtroom and in society more generally, using language in context to do so.