Women beware women: detective fiction and critical discourse stylistics

Urszula I. Clark, Sonia Zyngier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the work of four contemporary writers of detective fiction (P.D. James, Amanda Cross, Sara Paretsky and Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine) from a critical discourse stylistics perspective with the objective of raising the reader’s awareness of the ideological processes that are manifested in the language of these texts. It considers how these writers deal with stereotypical assumptions, how they cope with socially-determined traditional roles and verify whether their choices result in the articulation of an alternative discourse. The investigation arrives at some identifiable cultural and linguistic characteristics which may be singular to this new group of writers. We suggest that by challenging traditional representations of women, these writers may be offering a reconstruction of the genre.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-158
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage and Literature
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1998


  • critical discourse stylistics
  • detective fiction
  • feminist stylistics
  • women's studies


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