Quilting Muslims: A diachronic study of ideological representations around the master signifiers for Muslims in the TIME Magazine Corpus (1923–1992)

Jamie McKeown, Meng Ye

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This paper reports on the findings of a diachronic investigation into ideological patterns of representation around the master signifier Muslim (and its lexical variants) during 70 years of TIME Magazine journalism. Manual analysis, of 1,573 concordance lines, showed that across the twentieth century the dominant master signifier transmuted, in both content and form. Three signifiers were used across the twentieth century to refer to Muslims. The signifier Mohammedan/Muhammadan was used in neutral constructions to reference religious and cultural themes. The signifier Moslem was predominantly used in neutral constructions but displayed a greater propensity to reference negatively constructed political. The signifier Muslim was largely used to negatively reference the narrow issue of conflict. We conclude by suggesting directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalLanguage and Communication
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Diachronic study
  • Ideological quilting
  • Muslims
  • News values
  • Representations
  • TIME Magazine Corpus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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