Analyzing Hedge Frequency of Art Historical Undergraduate Research Essays for Writer Development
Hedges are a form of modality that act to distance writers from certainty in their discourse. In keeping with Ken Hyland’s view of humanities as a “soft” knowledge domain, art history discourse is susceptible to varying opinions and criticism because of its “interpretive” nature (361). Thus, hedges can be understood as useful in conveying stance in this discipline’s literature in a way that allows writers to offer concepts and ideas while still acknowledging previous literature, other voices, and other points of view. However, studies on hedge usage in art history are scarce. To rectify this gap, this research attempts to identify if, when, and how I learned hedging techniques as an undergraduate art history student. To accomplish this, a list of relevant hedging words, categorized by hedge type was compiled from various sources and checked against each text I wrote. This method provided tangible data to confirm the prevalence of hedging and to help understand how hedges are implemented in undergraduate art historical texts. This study ultimately provides insight into the usefulness of teaching hedging techniques to undergraduate humanities students.
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