Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Casey Keck


There are significant gaps in understanding how popular nonfiction writers utilize language to gain perspective and understanding with their audience in the narratives they have created. In the literary community, there is a pressing need to investigate how these narratives have the ability to help us connect with the greater world around us. To address this gap, the present study utilizes the fields of Corpus Linguistics and English Literature to investigate how first-person voice affects sentence structure in multiple narratives from a single nonfiction author.

A 33-thousand-word corpus was compiled with 11 of author David Sedaris' most recent essays from The New York Times, all published from 2010-2015. The collection of essays will be analyzed using Corpus Linguistics software to identify frequently occurring individual words, phrasal structures, and grammatical structures.

The presentation will describe how particular word combinations in nonfiction narratives help to foster a broad connection with readers and offer recommendations for a larger use of nonfiction narratives in mainstream English Literature classes.