This study focuses on private letters which turned public by their publication in British newspapers and contextualised the 1857-1858 mutiny in India. In doing so, they provided first-hand information of the dramatic events being experienced, and shaped the news presented as well as the readers’ opinions, thus foregrounding how letters can be considered a situated activity, in that they are written for a specific recipient and purpose. By adopting a corpus linguistic approach integrated with a qualitative interpretation, the study analyses the use of repeated keywords and their clusters’ discursive environment in a small specialised corpus of letters written by men and women during the mutiny. The emerging data suggest the language used attempts to generate emotive and critical reactions in the readership while creating a sense of borderless community across the empire by connecting personal concerns to a wider sense of public engagement while legitimising and or delegitimizing the 1857-58 mutiny.
Apr 29, 2021