“I know… I don’t know!” Times of Uncertainty: A Corpus Linguistic study of Seinfeld

I think to get the ball rolling with this I will post the abstract for a recent study I did on Seinfeld, which looked at Post Modernism and Pop Culture:


Postmodern society is marked by a blurring of traditional boundaries, which in turn suggests change, uncertainty and risk. The rise in the visibility and status of popular culture and television has facilitated the circulation of images and discourses which convey such a stance. In this study, a corpus driven analysis of a 750,000-word-corpus of the entire transcripts from the nine series of the television sitcom Seinfeld (1989-1998) was undertaken. Seinfeld was an award winning, critical and commercial success, as well as a cultural phenomenon that received numerous awards and top audience ratings throughout the years that it was produced. In this investigation, initially, frequency and keyword analyses provided data which suggested central themes and strategies that were prevalent throughout the series; these findings were further analyzed using concordance, collocation and semantic prosody methodologies. Conclusions from the investigation appear to reflect observations made by the postmodernist Bauman (2007a) who argued that we are living in a world of uncertainty in which security and assurances have vanished. The central themes of Seinfeld were predominately those of meaninglessness, futility and stagnation; the fact that such topics obtained the levels of popularity they did, remains a subject of interest.

Keywords: Seinfeld, Corpus Linguistics, Keyword Analysis