Computers and the Humanities

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 363–374 | Cite as

Weighing the evidence: Legal discourse in the 19th-Century Spanish feminist Concepción Arenal

  • Estelle Irizarry


In her remarkable 1861 book,The Woman of the Future, Concepción Arenal appropriated legal discourse, a wholly male domain, to plead the case for women's rights, in particular, education. Two different types of legal discourse emerge in her writing: that of written legislative law and that of courtroom advocacy. The computer can gather evidence of both; however, each mode of discourse requires different measures to weigh the significance of the findings. Easily obtainable repeat rates serve as an useful measure that can be related to what recognition psychologists call “retention intervals” and that are easily understood by non-statistically oriented literary scholars. Analysis focuses on Arenal's use of typography, lexicon, repetition, ideological challenge, interactive discourse, and prescriptive speech acts of the legal register to advocate the cause of women in nineteenth-century Spain.

Key words

feminism Spain essay journalism law discourse analysis female writing male writing stylistic analysis essay repeat rates 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Estelle Irizarry
    • 1
  1. 1.Spanish DepartmentGeorgetown UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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