WMU News

Minnick's book offers new view of dialect writing

Dec. 3, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Dr. Lisa Minnick, a first-year member of the English faculty at Western Michigan University, has authored a new view of dialect writing and its relationship to literary, linguistic, political and cultural trends. In Minnick's "Dialect and Dichotomy" particular emphasis is placed on African American voices in literature.

"Dialect and Dichotomy" covers recent, innovative applications of linguistic analysis of literature. It proposes theoretical principles and specific methods that can be implemented to analyze literary dialect for linguistic or literary purposes, or both. The proposed methods are applied in four original analyses of African American speech as represented in major works of fiction of the American South, including Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Charles W. Chesnutt's "The Conjure Woman," William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" and Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God."

Minnick's book is an ideal research resource and course text for students and scholars interested in areas including American, African American, and southern literature and culture; linguistic applications to literature; language in the African American community; and a variety of related topics.

"The unique contribution of [Minnick's] book is the combination of methods the author uses to approach the study of literary dialect. While incorporating computational analysis of language made possible by recently available text-analysis programs, she also uses more traditional techniques of literary criticism and dialect study to evaluate dialect in literary texts," says Cynthia Bernstein, editor of "The Text and Beyond: Essays in Literary Linguistics."

Minnick is an assistant professor of English at WMU. She has contributed to the African American and Gullah data digitization project for the Linguistic Atlas of the Middle and South Atlantic States at the University of Georgia. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and her master's and doctoral degrees in English language and American literature from the University of Georgia.

"Dialect and Dichotomy" is available through barnesandnoble.com and other major book stores.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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