Dictionaries are a powerful genre, perceived as authoritative and objective records of the language, impervious to personal bias. But who makes dictionaries shapes both how they are constructed and how they are used. Tracing the craft of dictionary making from the fifteenth century to the present day, this book explores the vital but little-known significance of women and gender in the creation of English language dictionaries. Women worked as dictionary patrons, collaborators, readers, compilers, and critics, while gender ideologies served, at turns, to prevent, secure, and veil women's involvements and innovations in dictionary making. Combining historical, rhetorical, and feminist methods, this is a monumental recovery of six centuries of women's participation in dictionary making and a robust investigation of how the social life of the genre is influenced by the social expectations of gender.
Lindsay Rose Russell teaches in the Department of English and The Center for Writing Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include histories and descriptions of the English language, rhetorical theory, genre studies, lexicography, and feminist historiography.
1. Walking dictionary, sleeping dictionary: toward a gendered history of a rhetorical genre; 2. Patronizing dictionaries: invocations of women at the invention of the genre; 3. Compiling dictionaries: lexicography attributable to women and alternative generic traditions; 4. Living with and working for dictionaries: women's contributions and critique as the genre expanded; 5. Reinventing dictionaries: the generic interventions of feminist lexicography.