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When things speak
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 11:37 authored by Penelope Jane Wheeler
In this study four cases of "speaking things" are investigated, with selections from the "consumables" of everyday, commercial contexts, who demand "Eat me!"; from art history, inscriptions which "speak" to their audience; and from literature, where the participants in two extended narratives, the cross in The dream of the rood and the stone in The story of the stone, project alternative models for human experience. Using analytical tools appropriate to these instances, and supported by literature from these various fields, this study locates these different but overlapping linguistic constructions of objects against the speech role network fundamental to systemic functional linguistics, and outlines the semantic patterns in which these "things" operate. In each case, when things speak, they cross network boundaries and re-shape participant interactions around them: but this investigation shows that these disruptive functions of speaking things do not break but, rather, powerfully strengthen and duplicate the cultural and ideological meanings of these texts.