Toward a feminist historiography of lexicography

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Though it is commonly asserted that the history of dictionary making is overwhelmingly male, it is also generally accepted that today's dictionary makers and scholars are gender-diverse. This article questions both assumptions-about the exclusivity of the lexicographical past as well as the inclusivity of the lexicographical present-and proposes feminist historiography as a means to unmasking and deroutinizing gender-biased histories of the field. Feminist historiography invites reevaluation and revision of histories that have favored certain practitioners (i.e., men) and practices (i.e., modes of dictionary making we might call masculinist) while ignoring larger social systems (e.g., sexism). Accordingly, feminist historiography aims not only to recover marginalized practitioners (e.g., women) and important systems (e.g., gender) but also to create alternative histories more attentive to the many modes of dictionary making. The article concludes with a case study of a seventeenth-century lexicographer whose absence from most histories underwrites a portrait of the dictionary much narrower than what she imagined and realized for the field in her own time. An ongoing critical practice of feminist historiography within dictionary studies might ultimately make us more aware of the obstacles presented to an inclusive present and future by exclusionary versions of the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-183
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018


  • Androcentrism
  • Feminist
  • Gender
  • Historiography
  • History
  • Mary Evelyn
  • Masculinity
  • Sexism
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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