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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Emily J. Lordi

Subject Categories

Literature in English, North America


This dissertation investigates the linguistic construction of race and place in turn-of-the-century American novels and short stories. Literary analyses of character speech continue to reinforce the old dichotomy of Standard versus nonstandard/dialectal English. I challenge the ideology of Standard English in my readings of works by Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Sarah Orne Jewett, and little-known Cherokee author, Ora V. Eddleman Reed, among others. I argue that these texts create their own standards that interact with (and sometimes resist) the language ideology of their time. By analyzing all variation, rather than only what has been traditionally viewed as “dialect,” I reveal the nuanced ways in which texts construct race, region, class, and gender. I argue for the significance of spelling and punctuation—orthography—in character speech, a key technology for creating and sustaining language ideology in fiction.