Sermons as data: Introducing a corpus of 11,955 Danish sermons

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In this article, we present a newly established corpus of 11,955 sermon manuscripts written by pastors in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark (ELCD) in 2011-2016. We argue that this corpus provides a resource for studying how pastors within the same religious institution attend to general themes in church and society, respond to contemporary events, and represent social worlds. The aim of the article is twofold. 1) To present and discuss our approach to acquire and assemble the sermons corpus. This approach entailed sampling sermons directly from Danish pastors, and cleaning the corpus and annotating it with metadata manually. 2) To demonstrate the research potential of the corpus through a case study on gender representations in the sermons. We find that male and female pastors differ in their use of fundamental linguistic components, namely gendered pronouns and associated verbs. This affects how they assign agency to male and female characters in the corpus, and indicate that male and female pastors shape the social worlds in sermons in quite different ways. This case study therefore illustrates just one of the ways in which corpus-based research of Danish sermons may provide novel insights in the field of religion and society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCultural Analytics
Volume12
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
ISSN2371-4549
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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