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Dickens and the Stenographic Mind$
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Hugo Bowles

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829072

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829072.001.0001

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The stenographic mind

The stenographic mind

Chapter:
(p.65) 4 The stenographic mind
Source:
Dickens and the Stenographic Mind
Author(s):

Hugo Bowles

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198829072.003.0005

This chapter brings together the descriptions and discussion in Chapters 1, 2, and 3 to summarize the main argument of the book. Drawing on Douglas-Fairhurst’s metaphor of the concertina, the chapter introduces the idea of the ‘stenographic mind’ as the consequence of the intensive mental operations involved in writing and reading Gurney shorthand. These operations include word games and language play (section 4.1), phonotactics (understanding what words are possible in a language) and redintegration (combining parts of words to produce a whole one) (section 4.2), visualization (section 4.3), and vocalization (section 4.4). The chapter argues that the cumulative effect of these operations was to produce a form of stenographic thinking which enabled Dickens to solve the mental puzzle of the Gurney shorthand script and control the relationship between stenographic writability and readability. This is argued to be a new form of literacy which strongly influenced Dickens’s writing practices.

Keywords:   stenographic mind, concertina, visualization, vocalization, puzzle, phonotactics, redintegration, readability, writability

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