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Epistemic space and key concepts in early and late modern medical discourse: an exploration of two genres

Whitt, Richard



This article provides a corpus-driven overview of the ‘epistemic space’ surrounding the use of two lockwords of Early and Late Modern writings on midwifery and childbirth, child and uterus. Rather than searching for epistemic stance markers themselves, this study employs the ‘bottom-up’ approach by examining the propositions containing these lockwords, and then seeing what particular epistemic meanings are signalled by the surrounding discourse context. Both treatises and periodicals representative of medical writing from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries are examined, thus allowing any diachronic trends characteristic of a period that witnessed much change in midwifery practices, and medicine more broadly, to be uncovered. Data are drawn from the Early Modern English Medical Texts (EMEMT) and Late Modern English Medical Texts (LMEMT) corpora.


Whitt, R. (2023). Epistemic space and key concepts in early and late modern medical discourse: an exploration of two genres. English Language and Linguistics, 1-29.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 5, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 17, 2023
Publication Date Jan 17, 2023
Deposit Date Oct 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 14, 2022
Journal English Language and Linguistics
Print ISSN 1360-6743
Electronic ISSN 1469-4379
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-29
Keywords Linguistics and Language; Language and Linguistics
Public URL
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Additional Information Copyright: Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press; License: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that no alterations are made and the original article is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained prior to any commercial use and/or adaptation of the article.; Free to read: This content has been made available to all.


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