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167 Cards in this Set

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A philosophical attitude pervading much of modern drama and fiction, which underlines the isolation and alienation that human beings experience, having been thrown into what absurdists see as a godless universe devoid of any religious, spiritual, or metaphysical meaning. Conspicuous in its lack of logic, consistency, coherence, intelligibility, and realism, the literature of the absurd depicts the anguish, forlornness, and despair inherent in the human condition. Counter to the rationalist assumptions of traditional humanism, absurdism denies the existence of universal truth or value.
An antiromantic term describing the desired distance between the subjective reality of the individual who undergoes experiences and the objective reality of the art that dramatizes experiences through its impersonal form. The term may also be used to describe the proper attitude of the reader, who should recognize the autonomy of art from its creator, neither identifying with the characters nor supposing that the attitudes, ideas, values, emotions, and norms embodied in the work have any necessary or immediate connection with those endorsed by the author in real life.
Aesthetic distance
A late nineteenth century movement whose characteristic slogan, "art for art's sake," stresses the uselessness of art and divorces aesthetics from any moral, social, political, or practical concerns. The work of art is viewed as being isolated from extrinsic reality or nature and as existing in, of, and for itself. Worshiping the decay and transience of things of beauty, aestheticism often incorporates decadence, seeing the accursed poet as a visionary who cultivates a systematic derangement of all the senses and makes a demented inner voyage into the dark depths of the self. Decadence luxuriates in the flowers of evil such sophisticated ennui produces. From Charles Baudelaire's demonics to the dandyism of Oscar Wilde, aestheticism leads to the modernist cult of the image and the formalist view of art as a self-enclosed universe.
A term used by Stanley Fish to describe the necessary reliance of the critic upon his or her affective responses to stylistic elements in the text. According to Fish, the literary text is not formally self-sufficient; it is created in part by the interpretive strategy that the reader deploys. One must therefore analyze "the developing responses of the reader in relation to the words as they succeed one another in time." The work and its result are one and the same thing; what a text is is what a text does
Affective stylistics
A term used by W K. Wimsatt and M. C. Beardsley to describe the "confusion between the poem and its result (what it is and what it does)." According to them, the critic should regard a poetic structure as formally self-sufficient and not commit the error of considering its emotional or pragmatic effects upon a reader.
Affective fallacy
Of or relating to the interpretation of allegory, a form of stable symbolism and extended metaphor such that there is a one-to-one correspondence between concrete text and abstract subtext. The characters, events, and setting on the literal level of the narrative correspond to ideas and concepts -- political, philosophical, theological, historical -- on the symbolic level. The levels referred to in the interpretation of scriptural and allegorical texts are fourfold: literal or historical meaning, the level of immediate narrative and reference; allegorical meaning, the level of reference to Christian doctrine, often involving the sense in which Old Testament episodes correspond to New Testament truth; tropological meaning, the level of reference to moral truth; and anagogic meaning, the level of reference to Christian eschatology (death, judgment, heaven, hell) and to mystical and spiritual significances. For example, literally, Jerusalem is a city; allegorically, it is the Church; tropologically, it is the faithful believer; and anagogically, it is the City of God.
Allegorical Interpretation
A nonpejorative term for the capacity of language to sustain multiple meanings. Also called plurisignation or polysemy, ambiguity arises from what William Empson calls "any verbal nuance, however slight, which gives room for alternative reactions to the same piece of language." In literary parlance, ambiguity is not a mistake in denotation to be avoided, but a resource of connotation to be exploited. In Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), Empson argues that the richness, complexity, and concentration of literary language derives from the seven types of ambiguity he discusses. The notion that ambiguity is the root condition of all literary discourse, a notion that arises from I. A. Richards's distinction between the scientific (referential or denotative) and the poetic (emotive or connotative) uses of language, is an integral aspect of the New Critical view that irony, paradox, and tension are definitive aspects of the work of art. (See also New Criticism.)
A term used by Harold Bloom to describe the overriding sense of belatedness that creative writers feel when they confront the rich plenitude of a literary tradition that seems to leave little room for novelty. According to Bloom, strong writers make literary history by misreading and misinterpreting their titanic predecessors so as to clear imaginative space for themselves. Every poem is a misprision or misconstrual of a hypothetical parent poem. Bloom's theory of the genesis of poems has a self-admitted psychoanalytic resonance, Sigmund Freud's Oedipal scenario being used as an analogy for the relationship between poet and predecessor.
Anxiety of influence
A term used by deconstructionists to describe the point of impasse or undecidability to which reading a text necessarily gives rise. Because all texts undo or dismantle the philosophical system to which they adhere by revealing its rhetorical nature, all texts are riven by indeterminacies, and the clash between the referential or literal and the rhetorical or figural levels of discourse inevitably produces aporia. The reader is thereby left in the double bind of trying to master a self-subverting text. (See also Deconstruction.)
See Practical criticism.
Applied criticism
A form of criticism which is based on the psychology of Carl Jung, who argues that there are two levels of the unconscious: the personal, which comprises repressed memories that are part of an individual's psyche, and the archetypal, which comprises the racial memory of a collective unconscious, a storehouse of images and patterns, vestigial traces of which inhere in all human beings and which find symbolic expression in all human art. Myth criticism explores the nature, function, and significance of these primordial images or archetypal patterns. Whereas Jung focuses on the genesis of these archetypes, myth critics such as Northrop Frye focus on their analysis. For Frye, an archetype is "a symbol, usually an image, which recurs often enough in literature to be recognizable as an element of one's literary experience." Frye devises an elaborate taxonomy of modes, symbols, myths, and genres, establishing a complex and comprehensive correspondence between the basic genres -- comedy, romance, tragedy, and irony -- and the myths and archetypal patterns associated with the seasonal cycle of spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Archetypal criticism
A term used by classical, Renaissance, and neoclassical critics (Horace, Sir Philip Sidney, John Dryden, and others) to describe a unified work that displays correctness and good taste and that has the right proportions of decorum (the mutual appropriateness of genre, style, action, subject matter, and character), delight (the intrinsic pleasure that artistic imitation affords), instruction (the utility, edification, and education that artistic imitation affords), and nature (the accurate representation of the world and human life). (See also Decorum, Delight, Instruction, Nature.)
A structuralist term used to describe the differential nature of any signifying system. Binary oppositions are not facts or substances that have detectable positive qualities, but relational elements that are detectable only by virtue of their difference from other elements intrinsic to the system itself. Thus individual terms acquire meaning only by being cast in opposition to other terms within a system of arbitrary and conventional signs. (See also Structuralism.)
Binary oppositions
An authorized or accepted list of books. In modem parlance, the literary canon comprehends the privileged texts, classics, or great books which are thought to belong permanently on university reading lists. Recent theory -- especially feminist, Marxist, and poststructuralist -- critically examines the process of canon formation and questions the hegemony of white male writers. Such theory sees canon formation as the ideological act of a dominant institution and seeks to undermine the notion of canonicity itself, thereby preventing the exclusion of works by women, minorities, and oppressed peoples.
A term used by Mikhail Bakhtin to describe the "joyful relativity" and "vitality" of the novel, which, unlike the lyric poem, incorporates a rich variety and multiplicity of styles, points of view, and voices. The "polyphonic" novel, unlike the "monological" poem, is inherently "dialogical." The novelistic, together with the carnivalistic, runs in its early forms from the Socratic dialogue through the Menippean satire. For Bakhtin truth is arrived at dialectically and dialogically through the competitive cooperation of divergent voices.
Carnival / carnivalesque
An Aristotelian term for the purgative or purifying effect that the imitation of victimage in tragedy has upon an audience. According to Aristotle, a tragedy is a dramatic form "with incidents arousing pity and fear wherewith to accomplish the catharsis of such emotion." By allowing spectators to load their emotions onto a scapegoat, tragedy cleanses them of harmful tensions which would otherwise poison their mental health. It also purifies these emotions and forces the audience to undergo a process of ethical clarification. Catharsis, therefore, is morally as well as psychologically therapeutic.
See Neo-Aristotelianism.
Chicago School
An early form of humanism in England dedicated to the revival of classical culture -- the life, thought, language, and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. Although opposed to Scholasticism, medieval asceticism, and abuses in the Church, Christian humanism retained its Christian faith and incorporated it with the Renaissance Humanist stress upon human as opposed to supernatural or divine interests. This humanism sought to apply humanistic doctrines to literature and criticism as well as to government, education, and religious reform. Its representative writers -- Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and John Milton -- reflect its dual focus, their works embodying aspects of both paganism and Christianity. (See also Humanism, New humanism.)
Christian humanism
Of or relating to Roman Jakobson's model of the process of communication (reproduced below).
The important implication of Jakobson's theory is that meaning does not reside in the message per se; it is part of the total act of communication, not a stable entity which passes, uncontaminated, from Addresser to Addressee.
Communication theory
The first part of Noam Chomsky's distinction between "what the speaker of a language knows implicitly . . . his competence and what he does . . . his performance." Linguistic competence refers to native speakers' tacit mastery or internalized knowledge of rules and norms which govern their language and make possible the generation of meaningful utterances. Literary competence refers to an analogous mastery and knowledge of the rules and norms of literary discourse. (See also Linguistics and literary theory.)
A phenomenological term used by Roman Ingarden to describe the process whereby the reader fills in the gaps in the structure of a work by rendering concrete and determinate its "places of indeterminacy." According to Ingarden, the reader has to concretize the work, making the implicit explicit, the potential actual.
A form of reader-response theory associated with the works of Hans Robert Jauss and Wolfgang Iser, both of whom are faculty members at the University of Constance, Germany. Both a reception aesthetic and a reception history, this theory examines how readers realize the potentials of a text and how readings change over the course of history. (See also Implied reader, Reader-response criticism, Reception theory.)
Constance School of Reception Aesthetics:
See Speech act theory.
Constative language:
A form of criticism which views the literary text as a self-contained verbal structure. Akin to the New_Criticism, contextualism holds that a work of art generates self-referential meanings within its own internal and autonomous context. Its proponents include Cleanth Brooks, Eliseo Vivas, and Murray Krieger.
Contextual criticism
A method of reading and theory of language that seeks to subvert, dismantle, and destroy any notion that a text or signifying system has any boundaries, margins, coherence, unity, determinate meaning, truth, or identity. Unlike structuralism, which privileges structure over event, deconstruction insists on the paradox of structure and event. Associated with the writings of Jacques Derrida
A term used by classical, Renaissance, and neoclassical critics (Horace, Sir Philip Sidney, John Dryden, and others) to describe the mutual appropriateness of genre, style, action, subject matter, and character. For example, a high style is fit and proper for royalty, a grave style for old men, a rustic style for shepherds, and a prosaic style for clowns. According to the dictates of correctness and good taste, the genre (tragedy, comedy, epic, or another), style (high, middle, low), action (whether serious or comic), subject matter (death, marriage, and so on), and character (age, rank, and status) must decorously merge. (See also Art, Delight, Instruction, Nature.)
A term used by Noam Chomsky, who argues that grammatically well-formed utterances in a language conceal a bipartite structure consisting, on the one hand, of a visible or "surface structure" -- the structure of the actual sentence uttered -- and, on the other hand, of a "deep structure" or "base component" -- the paradigm underlying it. According to Chomsky, every language has a core structure comprehending a set of generating principles which allows certain syntactic transformations, and these are to be analyzed as independent of particular meanings. Hence the idea of generative or transformational grammar, which focuses on the laws of transformation within the realm of deep structure and assumes the priority of syntax over semantics, structure over use. (See also Linguistics and literary theory, Surface structure.)
Deep structure
A term used by the Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky to describe the capacity of art to counter the deadening effect of habit and convention by investing the familiar with strangeness and thereby deautomatizing perception. Defamiliarization is not simply a question of perception; it is the essence of "literariness." Calling attention to its techniques and conventions ("baring the device"), literature exposes its autonomy and artificiality by foregrounding and defamiliarizing its devices.
A term used by classical, Renaissance, and neoclassical critics (Horace, Sir Philip Sidney, John Dryden, and others) to describe the pleasure and entertainment that artistic imitation affords. The idea of instruction with pleasure -- utile et dulce -- was introduced by Horace. (See also Art, Decorum, Instruction, Nature.)
A term describing a mode of analysis that undertakes to construct the historical evolution of a system of thought or language. The synchronic, by contrast, undertakes to describe the system as an existing whole without respect to its history. Structural linguistics rejects the diachronic assumptions of classical philology, which studies linguistic change over a long period of time, and embraces the synchronic assumptions of Saussurian linguistics, which studies language as a functioning system existing in the here and now. (See also Structuralism.)
A Marxist term for the kind of criticism that explores the causal connections between the content or form of literature at a given historical moment and the economic, social, and ideological factors that shape and determine that content or form. Work and background are construed to be dialectically related. (See also Marxist criticism.)
Dialectical criticism
A term used by Mikhail Bakhtin to describe how a literary work may incorporate a rich variety and multiplicity of voices, styles, and points of view. Unlike a monological text, which depends on the centrality of a single authoritative voice, the dialogical text allows for "a plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousnesses, a genuine polyphony of fully valid voices."
A statement, narration, or description devoid of explanation, conclusion, or judgment
A term coined by Jacques Derrida to describe the difference, differing, deferring, and deferral of meaning to which any signifying system gives rise. Because language is composed of differences rather than positive terms, the free play of signifiers is limitless. (See also Deconstruction.)
See Semiotics.
Formal and orderly speech or writing. In the writings of Michel Foucault, discourse is construed as the whole mass of texts that belongs to a single "discursive formation." Foucault argues that discursive hierarchies are established by a set of rules that is always subject to historical transformation. He attempts to map out the way discursive territory is divided into the disciplines of science, literature, history, philosophy, and so forth, revealing the hierarchy of discourses and the implicit power structure at a given historical moment. For Foucault, discursive practice is necessarily interwoven with power relations and social practices, history itself being but a "web" of discursive formations.
A deconstructionist term coined by Jacques Derrida to describe the necessary indeterminacy of meaning. Since any signifying system is but a system of differences without any positive terms, meaning is disseminated rather than conveyed. It disperses itself throughout the realm of différance, the realm of endless differing and deferral, of limitless free play. Meanings are thereby dispersed or disseminated among countless and contradictory alternatives, partaking of a fundamental instability. (See also Deconstruction.)
A term used by T. S. Eliot to describe the disjunction of thought and feeling that he perceives in English literature from the seventeenth century onward. For writers such as John Donne, Eliot argues, a thought was an experience; it was integrated with emotional and bodily response. Since the time of John Milton, however, thought has been divorced from feeling, and as the former became more refined and subtle, the latter became cruder. According to Eliot, the dissociation of sensibility is a linguistic and cultural malaise from which English literature and society have never recovered.
Dissociation of sensibility
See Unities.
Dramatic unities
A structuralist and poststructuralist term for the social institution of writing. On this view, literature is simply a mode of writing, a signifying system of codes and conventions that operates within the larger sphere of écriture. (See also Deconstruction.)
See Empathy.
One-half of I. A. Richards's dichotomous view of linguistic functions. Richards makes a qualitative distinction between scientific or referential discourse, which corresponds to external reality, and poetic or emotive discourse, which is internally coherent and organizes the unruly realm of impulses and attitudes for therapeutic purposes. Richards further develops the distinction by using the term "pseudo-statement" to define an utterance in which the emotive function is dominant and the term "statement" to define an utterance in which the referential function is dominant. According to him, "A pseudo-statement is justified entirely by its effect in releasing or organizing our impulses and attitudes . . . . A statement, on the other hand, is justified by its truth, that is its correspondence, in a highly technical sense, with the fact to which it points."
Emotive language
A translation of Hermann Lotze's term Einfühlung (literally, "feeling into"). It describes a person's projective capacity to identify imaginatively with and to participate in the feelings and situations evoked by a work of art. More generally, it refers to an act of self-projection, an identification between a human subject and a human, nonhuman, or inanimate object. (See also Sympathy.)
A term used by Michel Foucault to describe a heterogeneous and discontinuous epistemological field which is not to be understood as a cultural totality. It is an unmasterable web of historical ideas, social practices, power relations, and discursive formations that provides an alternative to the totalizing history that seeks to draw "all phenomena around a single center -- a principle, a meaning, a spirit, a world-view, an overall shape."
See Hermeneutics.
A philosophical, religious, and literary term, emerging from World War II, for a group of attitudes surrounding the pivotal notion that existence precedes essence. According to Jean-Paul Sartre, "man is nothing else but what he makes of himself." Existential literature manifests an awareness of the absurdity of the universe and is preoccupied with the single ethical choice that determines the meaning of a person's whole existence.
See Practical criticism.
Explication de texte
A movement in art, drama, and literature which sought to objectify and "express" inner experience by rejecting canons of realism and representation. As a literary movement, expressionism flourished in the German theater of the 1920s and concretely dramatized both a Freudian sense of the predominance of the irrational and unconscious in the human mind and a Marxist sense of the alienation of the individual in mass society. Such drama was characterized by antirealistic settings, ni.htmlarish actions, fragmented dialogue, and a general distortion of external reality
Terms used by Samuel Taylor Coleridge to distinguish mechanical and organic processes of literary creation. Fancy, the inferior mental faculty, works according to a mechanistic principle of the association of ideas and merely reproduces and recombines the "fixed and dead"objects given to consciousness through perception and memory. Imagination, the superior faculty, is creative and organic; it "dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate." A mechanical form is a preconceived idea imposed by fancy, whereas an organic form is a vital interdependence of parts and whole created by imagination, a faculty which "reveals itself in the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities."
Fancy and imagination
A criticism advocating equal rights for women in a political, economic, social, psychological, personal, and aesthetic sense. On the thematic level, the feminist reader should identify with female characters and their concerns. The object is to provide a critique of phallocentric assumptions and an analysis of patriarchal visions or ideologies inscribed in a literature that is male-centered and male-dominated. Such a reader denounces the outrageously phallic visions of writers such as D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and Norman Mailer, refusing to accept the cult of masculine virility and superiority that reduces woman to a sex object, a second sex, a submissive other.
Feminist criticism
An aesthetic effect achieved by giving pronounced but uncustomary prominence to a technique or convention normally relegated to the background. By "baring the device," literature exposes its autonomy and literariness. (See also Formalism.)
An application of the linguistic model to literature, associated in the early part of this century with the Moscow and Prague Linguistic Circles. According to the precepts of Russian Formalism, content is the "motivation" of form, and the literary work is an assemblage of devices which function within a total textual system. "Literariness" emerges when these devices, normally perceived by the reader to be familiar and conventional, are foregrounded, brought into an unaccustomed prominence such that the effect upon the reader is one of estrangement or defamiliarization
See Allegorical interpretation.
Fourfold meaning
A school of German Marxists -- Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, and others -- which views modernist writers such as Marcel Proust and Samuel Beckett not as reactionary exemplars of the diseased subjectivism and antihistorical myopia of late consumer capitalism, but as literary innovators whose experimentation with disruptive forms implicitly provides a critique of mass society -- its fragmentation, its estrangement, its dehumanization.
Frankfurt School
A school of phenomenological critics, the original members of which were associated with the University of Geneva. These "critics of consciousness" -- Georges Poulet, Marcel Raymond, Albert Begum, J. Hillis Miller, and others -- argue that the function of the reader is to enter into the consciousness of the author and then reproduce that consciousness in critical writing. The work is seen as a verbalization of the author's consciousness, and the reader strives for "consciousness of the consciousness of another."
Geneva School
A term used to describe types or categorizations of literature: tragedy, comedy, epic, lyric, pastoral, novel, short story, biography, essay, and so forth. Prior to the nineteenth century, it was assumed that the laws of genre were fixed and stable and that they provided objective criteria for evaluation. Today it is commonplace to acknowledge their arbitrary, conventional, and historical nature.
A term used by Jacques Derrida to describe a science of the written sign as an entity in itself. Antiphonocentric (that is, refusing to privilege speech over writing) and antilogocentric (that is, refusing to look for a "presence," or "ultimate referent," for any reality extrinsic to language), grammatology sees writing as a free play of signifiers. (See also Deconstruction.)
A term which, in its broadest sense, describes the interpretation of meanings -- explication, analysis, commentary. Originally applied to the interpretation of the Bible, hermeneutics comprised valid readings plus exegesis -- commentary on how the meanings were to be applied. In the nineteenth century, hermeneutics came to be considered as a general theory of interpretation applied to texts of all description. Wilhelm Dilthey developed Friedrich Schleiermacher's idea of the hermeneutic circle -- the paradox which emerges from the fact that the reader cannot understand any part of the text until the whole is understood, while the whole cannot be understood until the parts are understood
The purview or vista of a text or reader, the set of historically, psychologically, and culturally conditioned assumptions or conventions that are implicit either in the verbal meaning of a text or in the interpretive strategy of a reader. (See also Hermeneutics.)
Horizon of expectation
A man-centered rather than a god-centered view of the universe. In the Renaissance, Humanism devoted itself to the revival of classical culture: the life, thought, language, and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. A reaction against the divine concerns of medieval Scholasticism and Aestheticism, Humanism orients itself toward secular concerns and applies classical ideas to theology, church reform, government, literature, criticism, and education. In literature the main virtues are seen to be restraint, form, and imitation of the classics, the ultimate authorities being Aristotle and Horace. (See also Christian humanism, New humanism.)
See Formalism.
Reification, the construal of a conceptual entity as a real existent.
Charles Sanders Peirce's term for a sign that functions by means of sharing resemblances with what it signifies. Portraits or maps, for example, are natural resemblances rather than arbitrary and conventional signs. (See also Semiotics.)
A theory which holds that only mental states are knowable, the modern applications of which originate with Immanuel Kant. According to Kant, the world conforms to the categories of the mind, not vice versa. Against empiricism -- the view that all knowledge derives from experience, from the sensory data that impress themselves on the blank slate of consciousness -- idealism maintains that the mind plays an active role in the perception and structuring of the phenomenal world. Transcendental versions of the theory maintain that ultimate reality lies in a noumenal realm transcending the sensory world.
A set of beliefs, attitudes, values, and ideas that characterizes the consciousness of a class at a given historical moment. This set is determined by social, economic, and historical factors. According to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, any ideological superstructure derives from a material infrastructure or economic base.
See Speech act theory.
Illocutionary act
See Fancy and imagination.
A school of poetry prominent in Great Britain and North America between 1909 and 1918. According to T. E. Hulme, poetry should eliminate excess verbiage and concentrate on the absolutely accurate presentation of a concrete and precise image. The objectives of Imagism were accurate description, objective presentation, concentration and economy, new rhythms, freedom of choice in subject matter, suggestion rather than explanation, and the absence of clichés. In Ezra Pound's phrase, the natural object is always the adequate symbol.
See Mimesis.
A term used by Wolfgang Iser to describe a hypothetical reader of a text. The implied reader "embodies all those predispositions necessary for a literary work to exercise its effect -- predispositions laid down, not by an empirical outside reality, but by the text itself. Consequently, the implied reader as a concept has his roots firmly planted in the structure of the text; he is a construct and in no way to be identified with any real reader." (See also Constance School of Reception Aesthetics, Reader-response criticism, Reception theory.)
Implied reader
A kind of criticism that tries to convey what the critic subjectively feels and thinks about a work of art.
Impressionistic criticism:
A deconstructionist term for the necessary lack of fixed or stable meanings in any signifying system.
This is a prototype titlepage for the "Glossary of Literary Theory." Its entries are indexed by:
An index of Primary Entries.
See Anxiety of influence.
A term used by classical, Renaissance, and neoclassical critics (Horace, Sir Philip Sidney, John Dryden, and others) to describe the utility, edification, and education that artistic imitation affords. The idea of instruction with pleasure -- utile et dulce -- was introduced by Horace. (See also Art, Decorum, Delight, Nature.)
A hermeneutical term for the willed verbal meaning of an author, in principle determinate and in principle understandable. Verbal intention is not a psychological phenomenon but a linguistic one. It comprises conventions and norms that the author explicitly and implicitly deploys and that the competent reader is able to reconstruct.

Intentionality is also a phenomenological term for the fact that consciousness is always directed to an object, is consciousness of something. One cannot separate the thinking subject from the objects it intends.
Intention / intentionality
A term used by William K. Wimsatt and M. C. Beardsley to describe the error of interpreting a work in terms of its author's professed intention in creating it. Unless intentions are realized and implied by the autonomous verbal structure itself, they are irrelevant and immaterial. From this point of view, biographical facts, authorial testimonies, and other data extrinsic to the text itself have no bearing on interpretation unless they pertain to concretely dramatized elements.
Intentional fallacy
A phenomenological term used to describe something which is accessible to two or more subjects. Intersubjectivity implies an objectivity somewhere and attempts to heal the cleavage between the subject and its world. Structuralists push the idea further, seeing the individual self as an intersubjective construct, a place where various codes and conventions are located.
A term used by Julia Kristeva to describe the preexisting body of discourse that makes an individual text intelligible. Every text is a response to and an interpretation of other texts, and it can be read only in relation to them. The meaning of a text is dependent upon other texts that it absorbs and transforms, for, as Roland Barthes puts it, "the text is not a line of words releasing a single 'theological' meaning . . . but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash."
Recognition of the difference between real and apparent meaning. Verbal irony is a rhetorical trope wherein "x" is uttered and "not x" is meant, as when Mark Anthony says that Brutus is an honorable man. Dramatic irony occurs when characters say something and the auditors know more than they do. In the New Criticism, irony, the poet's recognition of incongruities, was thought to be the master trope in that it was essential to the production of paradox, complexity, richness, and ambiguity. (See also New Criticism.)
See Linguistics and literary theory, Structuralism.
See Phenomenology.
The revolution in modern linguistics consists in regarding language synchronically rather than diachronically. Classical philology undertakes to construct a historical evolution of a system of language, focusing on the study of linguistic change over a period of time (diachrony), whereas modern linguistics studies the system as a functioning totality, a signifying structure (synchrony). The application of this linguistic model to the study of literature has been fruitful. Russian Formalism, semiotics, and structuralism analogically extend Saussure's terms into the analysis of literature.
Linguistics and literary theory:
A term used by Jacques Derrida to describe the bias of Western philosophy toward a metaphysics of presence, an order of being, meaning, truth, reference, reason, or logic conceived as independent of language. (See also Deconstruction.)
A term used by Jacques Derrida to describe the undoing of any attempt to impose closure or boundaries upon a text. Deconstruction's concentration on the seemingly marginal or inessential aspects of a text seeks to subvert the distinctions between marginal and central, inessential and essential, inside and outside. (See also Deconstruction.)
Criticism based on the historical, economic, and sociological theory of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. According to Marxism, the consciousness of a given class at a given historical moment derives from modes of material production. The set of beliefs, values, attitudes, and ideas that constitutes the consciousness of this class forms an ideological superstructure, and this ideological superstructure is shaped and determined by the material infrastructure or economic base. Hence the term "historical materialism." Marxism assumes the ontological priority of matter over mind and sees mind as the product of historical forces. Like sociological criticism, Marxist criticism is perpetually oriented to the social realities that condition works of art. Class status, gender, ideology, economic conditions, the literary marketplace, the reading public, and so forth -- all these factors define the dialectical relationship between literary productions and their sociohistorical contexts.
Marxist criticism
A term used by Samuel Taylor Coleridge to describe the form that results when fancy, a mental faculty that works according to a mechanistic association of ideas, imposes a prefabricated or predetermined pattern upon a work of art. (See also Organic form.)
Mechanic form:
A criticism of criticism, the goal of which is to scrutinize systematically the terminology, logic, and structure that undergird critical and theoretical discourse in general or any particular mode of such discourse.
A language used to describe and analyze the codes, conventions, and structures of another language.
Roman Jakobson's terms for the two axes of language. The vertical or metaphoric axis concerns the relations between an individual word in a sentence and other, similar words that might be substituted for it. Like metaphor, the vertical axis works according to the principle of similarity and substitution. The horizontal or metonymic axis concerns the possibilities of syntactic combinations of words so as to make a well-formed sentence. Like metonymy, the horizontal axis works according to the principle of combination and context. (See also Linguistics and literary theory, Structuralism.)
Metonymy / metaphor
An Aristotelian term for imitation, the idea that art imitates nature, that it is a realistic depiction of life, natural objects, and human action
A term used by Harold Bloom to describe the process by which strong writers misread or misinterpret their literary predecessors so as to clear imaginative space for themselves. According to Bloom, every poem is a misprision or misconstrual of a hypothetical parent poem. (See also Anxiety of influence.)
A term used to describe the characteristic aspects of literature and art between World War I and World War II. Influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche's annunciation of the death of God Karl Marx's view of consciousness as a product of sociohistorical factors, Sigmund Freud's view of the unconscious as the determinant of motivation and behavior, and the dislocating effects of the carnage and devastation of the war, modernism embodies a lack of faith in Western civilization and culture -- its humanism and rationalism. In poetry, fragmentation, discontinuity, allusiveness, and irony abound; in fiction, chronological disruption, linguistic innovation, the stream-of-consciousness device, and point-of-view narration; in art and theater, expressionism and surrealism.
See Dialogism.
See Prague Linguistic Circle.
Moscow Linguistic Circle
See Archetypal criticism.
Myth criticism
An offshoot of structuralism which seeks to apply the linguistic model to the analysis of narrative. Its enabling distinction is between story (the "actual" chronological sequence of events) and discourse (the order in which those events are presented to the reader). Narratology attempts to construct a poetics of fiction or grammar of storytelling, analyzing the codes, conventions, and systems that structure all narration. (See also Structuralism.)
A term used by Emile Zola to describe the application of the clinical method of empirical science to all of life. According to naturalistic philosophy, heredity and environment influence and determine human motivation and behavior. Thus, if a writer wishes to depict life as it really is, he or she must be rigorously deterministic in the representation of the characters' thoughts and actions in order to show forth the causal factors that have made the characters inevitably what they are. Substituting the scientific idea of determinism for the classical idea of fate, Zola argues for a literature of observation rather than one of fabrication. Although not all the early naturalistic works are harsh, many of them portray the experiences of impoverished and uneducated people, imprisoned perforce in a milieu of filth, squalor, and corruption. As a result, naturalism is often equated with the depressingly dreary slice-of-life documentation of irredeemable and brutal realities. Unlike realism, which also seeks to represent human life as it is actually lived, naturalism specifically connects itself to the philosophical doctrine of biological and social determinism, according to which human beings are devoid of free will. (See also Realism.)
A term used by classical, Renaissance, and neoclassical writers (Horace, Sir Philip Sidney, John Dryden, and others) to describe what art should seek to imitate and to represent realistically -- namely, the external world and the action and life of human beings within it. (See also Art, Decorum, Delight, Instruction.)
A view of literature and criticism propagated by the Chicago School -- Ronald S. Crane, Elder Olson, Richard McKeon, Wayne Booth, and others -- which takes a pluralistic attitude toward the history of literature and seeks to view literary works and critical theories intrinsically, that is, in terms of their enabling assumptions about genre and form. Neo-Aristotelianism emphasizes the principles that inform the structure of a work and the generic and formal classifications that govern its construction, that make it, in Crane's phrase, "a beautiful and effective whole of a determinate kind."
A term used to describe the classicism that dominated English literature from the Restoration to the late eighteenth century. Modeling itself on the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, neoclassicism exalts the virtues of proportion, unity, harmony, grace, decorum, taste, manners, and restraint. It values realism and reason over imagination and emotion, mobilizing a utilitarian language of common sense, conventional imagery, and accurate diction. Wit and satire flourished in this period, as did the ode and verse written in heroic couplets. The theater featured heroic drama, written in verse, and comedies of manners, written in prose.
An offshoot of Platonism propagated by Plotinus and others, which sees beauty, truth, and goodness as emanating from the One or Absolute.
A term applied to the criticism written by John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate. R. P. Blackmur, Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, and others as well as to the seminal ideas of T. S. Eliot, I. A. Richards, and William Empson. A reaction against the old criticism which saw art as self-expression (Romanticism) or exalted the subjectivity of the reader (impressionism) or applied extrinsic criteria of morality and value to literature (new humanism) or gave credence to the professed intentions of the author (intentional fallacy) or confused what a poem is with what a poem does (affective fallacy), the New Criticism regards the work of art as an autonomous object, a self-contained universe of discourse.New Criticism maintains that a close reading of literary texts will reveal the multiple meanings and nuanced complexities of their verbal texture as well as the oppositions and tensions which are balanced in the organic unity of the text.
New Criticism
A mode of analysis that sees history as a form of writing, discourse, or language. This new historicism abandons any notion of history as an imitation of events in the world or a reflection of external reality. Instead, it regards history as a species of narrative with gaps or ruptures between epistemes -- modes of thought and ways of knowing that characterize a given historical moment.
New historicism
An American movement (1910-1933) associated with Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More. A reaction against the increasing hegemony of science, the new humanism urged a return to liberal education and objected to the specialization to which science and technology were giving rise. Endowed with free will, human beings are essentially moral agents; they cannot be studied exclusively in terms of heredity and environment or any other scientific constructs. It is not only unavoidable but also desirable that one apply extrinsic criteria -- ethical and evaluative -- to literature. (See also Christian humanism, Humanism.)
New humanism
term used by T. S. Eliot in the 1919 essay "Hamlet and His Problems." According to Eliot, "the only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an 'objective correlative'; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion."
Objective correlative:
A term used to describe a kind of criticism that views the aesthetic object as autonomous and self-contained. Because a work of art contains its purpose within itself (is, in Eliot's phrase, autotelic), analysis and assessment of it can take place only with reference to certain intrinsic criteria -- form, coherence, organic unity (the interdependence of parts and whole). Extrinsic criteria -- poet, audience, sociohistorical context, external reality -- are deemed to be out of order. Objective criticism thus includes the New_Criticism, Neo-Aristotelianism, contextual criticism, and Formalism.
Objective criticism
Criticism predating the New Criticism and bringing extrinsic criteria to bear on the analysis of literature. Refusing to recognize the autonomy of art, such criticism sees literature as authorial self-expression (Romanticism) or critical sell-expression (impressionism) or as parasitic upon moral or ethical absolutes (new humanism). Such criticism blithely commits the affective and intentional fallacies. (See also New Criticism.)
Old criticism
A term used by Samuel Taylor Coleridge to describe the form that results when imagination -- a superior mental faculty that "dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate" -- generates a work of art. According to Coleridge, organic form "is innate; it shapes as it develops from within, and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form." The development of a poem, then, is seen to be analogous with the growth of a plant, whose evolutionary energy is drawn from within until, finally, it achieves organic unity or perfect form. (See also Mechanic form.)
Organic form
The former is a term used by Thomas Kuhn to describe the dominant ontological model that enjoys hegemony in a scientific community at a given historical moment. According to Kuhn, a paradigm is either a particular conceptual model, theory, or mode of explanation, or it is "the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by the members of a given community." Paradigms, then, are "universally recognized scientific achievements that for a time provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners." They are the "accepted examples of actual scientific practice -- examples which include law, theory, application and instrumentation together -- [and] provide models from which spring particular coherent traditions of scientific research." Kuhn's enterprise is to trace the historical succession of scientific paradigms, thereby discovering the structure of scientific revolutions. His surprising conclusion is that although he does not doubt that "Newton's mechanics improves on Aristotle's and that Einstein's improves on Newton's as instruments for puzzle-solving," he can see "no coherent direction of ontological development." According to him, it is mistaken to believe that in science changes in paradigm carry us closer and closer to the objective truth. There is, he contends, "no theory-independent way to reconstruct phrases like 'really there'; the notion of a match between the ontology of a theory and its 'real' counterpart in nature now seems . . . illusive in principle."
Paradigm / paradigmatic
A statement that initially seems to be illogical or self-contradictory yet eventually proves to embody a complex truth. In the New Criticism, the term is extended to embrace any complexity of language that sustains multiple meanings and deviates from the norms of ordinary language use. Hence Cleanth Brooks's claim that "the language of poetry is the language of paradox." (See also New Criticism.)
A term used by John Ruskin to decry the ascription of human attributes, traits, feelings, and so forth to nonhuman objects. Such ascriptions, he argues, "produce in us a falseness in all our impressions of external things." The term is also used nonpejoratively to denote a common feature of descriptive poetry; it is related to but somewhat less formal than the rhetorical trope of prosopopoeia, or personification.
Pathetic fallacy
A system of "presuppositionless" philosophy developed by Edmund Husserl, who sought to investigate the pure data of human consciousness -- its Lebenswelt, or "lived world." According to Husserl's key concept of intentionality, consciousness is always consciousness of something; it is always directed to an object. Bracketing external reality (epoché) and making neither epistemological assumptions about the foundations of knowledge nor ontological assumptions about the nature of being, the phenomenologist examines the intentional objects of consciousness without making reference to any external objects or real existence.
The privileging of speech over writing, the view that writing is secondary or derivative, that it is dependent or parasitic upon speech. According to Jacques Derrida, phonocentrism is at the heart of the metaphysics of presence, the logocentrism that pervades Western civilization. The view that a unitary self and a unitary meaning are present in speech is that which Derrida seeks to deconstruct. Writing, he argues, violates the assumption of presence and is therefore relegated to the margins. (See also Deconstruction.)
Roland Barthes's distinction between the texte de plaisir (pleasure) and the texte du jouissance (bliss, ecstasy, orgasm). The former refers to the "readable" traditional novel, the latter to the "unreadable" modern novel. The traditional realist novel may offer the pleasure of coherence, but only the new novel allows the reader to luxuriate orgasmically in a world of incoherence, contradiction, and illogicality.
Pleasure / bliss
A term used by Mikhail Bakhtin to describe a dialogical text which, unlike a monological text, does not depend on the centrality of a single authoritative voice. Such a text incorporates a rich plurality and multiplicity of voices, styles, and points of view. It comprises, in Bakhtin's phrase, "a plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousnesses, a genuine polyphony of fully valid voices." (See also Dialogism.)
Polyphonic novel
Critical theory that uses the concepts of Saussurian linguistics (sign, signifier, signified, langue, parole, and so forth) and the structuralist application of these terms to the study of literature as a system of signs for the purposes of subverting or deconstruction these concepts. Poststructuralism is thus a blanket term and refers to diverse writings such as the deconstruction of Jacques Derrida, the late criticism of Roland Barthes, the New Historicism of Michel Foucault, the psychoanalytic revisionism of Jacques Lacan, the feminist criticism of Gayatri Spivak, and so forth.
A pivotal concept in Michel Foucault's analyses of historical systems of institutional and discursive practices. According to Foucault, knowledge is governed by power relations; truth relies on institutional support, and disciplines constitute a system of control in the production of discourse. It is not enough merely to speak the truth: one must be in the truth (dans le vrai).
Applied criticism; explication de texte; the analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of particular works and writings. In the New Criticism, practical criticism involves the close reading of individual texts with particular attention to their intrinsic verbal texture and structure. In Practical Criticism (1929), I. A. Richards analyzes the responses of his students to poems unfamiliar to them in order to point out characteristic errors in interpretation: mnemonic irrelevances, stock responses, doctrinal adhesions, technical presuppositions, general critical presuppositions, and so forth.
Practical criticism:
An offshoot of the Moscow Linguistic Circle, members of which included Boris Eikhenbaum, Viktor Shklovsky, and Roman Jakobson. When Formalist criticism was suppressed by the Russian government in the early 1930s, Jakobson emigrated to Czechoslovakia and became part of the Prague Linguistic Circle, members of which included Rene Wellek and Jan Mukarovsky. (See also Formalism.)
Prague Linguistic Circle:
A Marxist term used to describe the unity of theory and practice, the aim of Marxism being not only to understand the world but also to change it. (See also Marxist criticism.)
The aesthetics of the brotherhood founded in 1848 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in reaction against the conventionality and academicism of contemporary painting. The Pre-Raphaelites advocated a return to the simplicity and piety of Italian painting before Raphael (1483-1520). These ideals were appropriated by a group of literary artists -- Rossetti, his sister Christina, Algernon Charles Swinburne, William Morris, and others -- whose sensuous exactitude resulted in their being designated the "Fleshly School" of poetry. As well as exhibiting this attentiveness to exact detail, their productions incorporate aspects of medievalism and supernaturalism.
A term used by Jacques Derrida to describe the logocentric bias of Western metaphysics toward an order of being, meaning, truth, reference, reason, or logic conceived as independent of language, as a presence that stands outside discourse. (See also Deconstruction.)
Presence, metaphysics of
See Emotive language.
Of or relating to the psychological ideas of Sigmund Freud. From Freud's standpoint, literature is seen as the wish fulfillment or fantasy gratification of desires denied by the reality principle or prohibited by moral codes. These unconscious libidinal desires find symbolic expression in art as in dreams. Freud's impact on the criticism and theory of literature has been enormous. Ernest Jones uses the notion of the Oedipus complex -- the desire of a boy to possess his mother and supplant his father -- as an explanatory model for Hamlet; Harold Bloom uses it as an analogy for the relationship between a strong poet and his literary predecessors. Jacques Lacan develops a linguistic interpretation of Freud, arguing that "the unconscious is structured like a language." Norman N. Holland applies psychoanalytic concepts to reader-response criticism. Feminist critics deconstruct Freud's patriarchal assumptions. Moreover, psychobiography, a genre that uses data from the real events of an author's life and the fictional events dramatized in his literature, is a product of psychoanalytic theory. In short, the analysis of literary symbolism is heavily indebted to Freudian theory.
Psychoanalytic theory
The systematic examination of the aspects of the text that arouse, shape, and guide a reader's response. According to reader-response criticism, the reader is a producer rather than a consumer of meanings. Reader-response criticism, however, does not denote any specific theory.
Reader-response criticism
A literary movement of the nineteenth century which sought to represent human experience and society in a way that seems true to life. The term may be extended to refer to any literature that aims for verisimilitude. (See also Naturalism.)
A form of reader-response theory that focuses on the reception of a text, both on an individual and on a historical basis. Reception aesthetics examines how readers realize the potentials of a text; reception history examines how readings change over the course of time. (See also Constance School of Reception Aesthetics, Implied reader, Reader-response criticism.)
Reception theory
The process by which a text's system of linguistic and literary codes and conventions is naturalized by its readers, who mistakenly assume that a text refers to the real world. According to structuralism, such naturalization or recuperation is fundamentally wrongheaded, for the real world itself is nothing but a culturally endorsed system of signs, of shared codes, conventions, and ideologies.
The object in the external world to which a sign may or may not point. As a signifier, "cat" must be differentiated from all other signifiers which are similar ("bat," "cab" and so forth); as a signified, it must be linked with a concept ("a carnivorous mammal . . ."); as a referent, it must correspond to a real existent in the world. Unlike "cat," "unicorn" is a sign that has no referent. Structural linguistics, phenomenology, structuralism, and poststructuralism deliberately banish any consideration of the referent.
Reference / referent
The construal of a conceptual entity as a real existent. (See also Marxist criticism.)
The idea that literature reflects a reality outside itself and that its function is to imitate that external realm of society, history, nature, action, and life.
From Aristotle (in Poetics and Rhetoric) to the present day, the art of persuading an audience (and, by extension, a reading audience), traditionally by means of oratorical (later, literary) devices used to emotional as well as intellectual effect: emphasis, juxtaposition, structure, figures of speech, and so on.In the classical sense, rhetoric can be equated with oratory.
Its modern association with written as opposed to spoken discourse came to full flowering in the Renaissance, when invention and disposition came under the purview of the philosophy of dialectics, and style, now the sole realm of rhetoric, was divided into "elocution" (devices, ornaments) and "pronunciation" (oral delivery). Rhetoric today retains its association with public speaking as well as literature, with the emphasis on figures of speech.
A term used by Wayne Booth to describe the kind of criticism that regards fiction as the art of communicating with readers. According to Booth, such criticism focuses on the rhetorical resources available to a writer as that writer tries, consciously or unconsciously, to impose his or her fictional world upon the reader. To foreground the author's means of controlling the reader, Booth isolates narrative technique and other means of achieving effects on readers from the sociohistorical and psychological forces that affect authors and readers.
Rhetorical criticism
A movement of the late eighteenth century and the nineteenth century that exalts individualism over collectivism, revolutionism over conservatism, innovation over tradition, imagination over reason, and spontaneity over constraint. According to romanticism, art is essentially self-expression, a spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions. A work of art should exemplify organic form so that the parts and the whole are vitally interdependent. Romanticism strives to heal the cleavage between subject and object, "to make the external internal, the internal external, to make nature thought, and thought nature" (Samuel Taylor Coleridge). As a political idea, Romanticism stresses the innate goodness of human beings and the evil of the institutions that trammel and stultify human creativity.
See Formalism.
Russian Formalism
The study of the meanings of words and word combinations in phrases and sentences. (See also Linguistics and literary theory.)
Semiotics holds that all linguistic and social phenomena are texts, and the object is to reveal the underlying codes and conventions that make them meaningful. Claude Levi-Strauss applies semiotics to cultural anthropology; Jacques Lacan applies it to Freudian psychoanalysis; Michel Foucault, to the history of disease, insanity, and sexuality; and Roland Barthes, to fashion, photography, wrestling, food, and so on. (See also Linguistics and literary theory, Structuralism.)
A term used to describe literature of the eighteenth century which exalts emotionalism over rationalism. According to the School of Sensibility, feelings are more reliable guides to truth and conduct than are principles and abstractions. Against the theories that view human beings as motivated by enlightened self-interest, the literature of sensibility views benevolence and sympathy as definitive human traits.
Sensibility, literature of:
A term used to describe any emotional response that is excessive and disproportionate to its impetus or occasion. It also refers to the eighteenth century idea that human beings are essentially benevolent, devoid of Original Sin and basic depravity. The charge of sentimentalism is often leveled against the literature of sensibility, which was rife with fainting heroines and melancholic posturings.
Terms used by Ferdinand de Saussure. The linguistic sign, Saussure contends, is composed of the union between a signifier (an acoustic image which differentiates the sign from all others) and a signified (a concept or meaning). Affirming the relationship between signifier and signified to be arbitrary and conventional, Saussure deliberately ignores the referent, the extralinguistic object to which the sign may or may not point. For Saussure, language is a system of differences without any positive terms. Signification, then, is purely an internal linguistic affair; it has nothing to do with a reality outside the signifying system itself.
Sign / signification / signified / signifier
A term used by Marxists to describe literature that accurately depicts and reflects class conflict, that demonstrates the rectitude of the proletarian cause, and that exposes ideological mystification. At its crudest and most propagandistic, Socialist Realism documents bourgeois vices, proletarian virtues, and the glories of the Soviet Union.
Socialist Realism
See Marxist criticism.
Sociological criticism
In contrast to the assumptions of structuralism (a theory that privileges langue, the system, over parole, the speech act), speech act theory holds that the investigation of structure always presupposes something about meanings, language use, and extralinguistic functions.
A theory of language based on J. L. Austin's How to Do Things with Words (second edition, 1975), the major premise of which is that language is as much, if not more, a mode of action as it is a means of conveying information.
Speech act theory
Formalist, structuralist, and semiotic terms used to distinguish the "actual" chronological sequences of events in a work of fiction (story) from the order and manner in which those events are presented to the reader (discourse). (See also Formalism.)
Story / discourse
A theory of literature that focuses on the codes and conventions that undergird all discourse and on the system of language as a functioning totality. This system Ferdinand de Saussure calls langue, "the whole set of linguistic habits which allow an individual to understand and to be understood." Anticausal and antiphilological, structuralism deliberately ignores the historical origins of the various elements of language, the external context of linguistic acts, the agents who use language, and the individual speech acts themselves (parole). Structuralism sees language as a system of differences without any positive terms, embraces the arbitrariness and conventionality of the sign, brackets any consideration of the referent, and generates a vocabulary of oppositions, all of which are more or less synonymous: langue and parole, synchrony and diachrony, system and event, signifier and signified, code and message, metaphor and metonymy, paradigm and syntagm, selection and combination, substitution and context, similarity and contiguity. In each case the first term is privileged.
A mode of analyzing literature that focuses on aspects of form rather than aspects of content and that may be used to determine the distinctive features of a literary work, an author, or a particular literary period. Al the phonological level, such analysis concerns itself with sound patterns, rhyme, meter, assonance, alliteration, euphony, and so forth. At the syntactic level, it concerns itself with sentence structure, grammatical kinds of sentences (simple, compound, complex, compound-complex), rhetorical kinds of sentences (loose, periodic, balanced, antithetical), functional kinds of sentences (statement, question, command, exclamation), sentence length, sentence openers (subject, expletive, coordinating conjunction, adverb word. conjunctive phrase, prepositional phrase, verbal phrase, adjective phrase. absolute phrase, adverb clause, front-shift), means of articulating sentences (coherence devices, transitional expressions), and the like. At the lexical level, it concerns itself with diction (general or specific, abstract or concrete, formal or informal, polysyllabic or monosyllabic, common or technical, referential or emotive, denotative or connotative). At the rhetorical level it concerns itself with iterative imagery and figures of speech (metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, irony, and personification, among other things). Stylistics often has scientific pretensions and may involve the amassing of reams of quantitative data. (See also Linguistics and literary theory.)
Term used by Noam Chomsky in his theory of generative-transformational grammar to distinguish the structure of a particular speech act (parole) from the "deep structure" or "base component" of the system of language that generates it. (See also Deep structure, Linguistics and literary theory.)
Surface structure
A revolutionary approach to artistic and literary creation whose emergence as an identifiable movement coincided with the publication of André Breton's Manifest du surréalisme (1924). Influenced by the Symbolism of Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud and by the Freudian valorization of the unconscious, Surrealism, like Dada, which immediately preceded it, argues for complete artistic freedom, for the abandonment of all restrictions which might be imposed on the creator of art. The artist should relinquish all conscious control, responding to the irrational urges of the "deep mind," or unconscious. Hence the bizarre, dreamlike, and ni.htmlarish quality of surrealistic writing, which startlingly combines seemingly incompatible elements and violates all traditional artistic, philosophical, and moral norms and canons. As a movement, Surrealism flourished in France, Spain, and Latin America, comprising such artists as Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, and Max Ernst. After World War II, it influenced such American writers as Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, John Ashberry, Nathanael West, and Bob Dylan.
A term used by Charles Sanders Peirce to describe the sign proper, wherein the relation between signifier and signified is entirely arbitrary and conventional. Unlike the icon, the symbol bears no natural resemblance to what it signifies, and unlike the index, it has no causal connection with what it signifies. A map of a country is iconic, smoke as the sign of fire is indexical, but the word "map" and the word "smoke" are symbolic. The two words signify because a language user can differentiate them acoustically and conceptually from, say, "mop" and "stoke." Such differentiations are arbitrary and conventional. (See also Semiotics.)
Symbol / symbolization
A literary movement encompassing the work of a group of writers working in France in the latter half of the nineteenth century, a group which included Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, Paul Valéry, Arthur Rimbaud, and others. According to Symbolism, there is a magical and mystical correspondence between the natural and spiritual worlds. By exploiting the connotative, associative, and evocative power of words, the poet, through his own suggestive private language, can obliquely express this correspondence and trigger a sympathetic vibration in the reader. The Symbolists had a great influence on British and American poets, especially on William Butler Yeats and T. S. Eliot.
A feeling for others; an identification with the interests and fortunes of another human being, a character in literature, or any animate or inanimate object which one's imagination endows with human attributes. This alliance or identification stops short of the complete identification with the thing itself that empathy (Einfühlung, or "feeling into") implies. (See also Empathy.)
A term describing a mode of analysis that undertakes to describe a system of thought or language as an existing whole without respect to its history, its diachronic development over a long period of time. Saussurian linguistics, for example, studies language as a functioning system of signs existing in the here and now. (See also Structuralism.)
Linguistic terms used to describe the linear or horizontal axis of language, the relations among words arranged sequentially to produce meaningful utterances, the rules and norms governing the production of these utterances. (See also Linguistics and literary theory, Structuralism.)
Syntagm / syntagmatic
A linguistic term used to describe the study of the ways in which words are arranged sequentially to produce grammatical units such as phrases, clauses, and sentences. (See also Linguistics and literary theory.)
A group of French intellectuals -- Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva, Jean-Joseph Goux, and others -- who were associated with Philippe Seller's avant-garde review Tel Quel.
Tel Quel group
A formalist term for the work of art conceived as an autonomous verbal object, a self-enclosed universe of discourse.
The gathering together and collating of all the variant versions of a given text in order to arrive at an authoritative text, the one which most accurately reflects the intentions of the author.
Textual criticism
Écriture, the social institution of writing, a heterogeneous collection of texts that interanimate one other (intertextuality) and that cannot be studied as autonomous objects. Textuality is an all-embracing term for the idea that the world itself is nothing but a culturally endorsed system of signs -- of shared codes, conventions, and ideologies -- a textual system whose free play is limitless.
See Unities.
Three unities
A term used by Jacques Derrida to describe the residue of all non-present meanings, written marks, or sounds. Because language is a system of differences without any positive terms, features are identifiable only by the absence of other features. (See also Deconstruction.)
A figure of speech, the use of a word or phrase which deviates from the norm.
A mode of biblical exegesis initiated by Saint Paul. According to typological or figural interpretation, persons and events in the Old Testament (called types, or figurae) are viewed as foreshadowings of similar persons or events in the New Testament: Abraham and Moses, for example, are seen as types for Jesus Christ.
Typological interpretation
Action, place, and time, the latter two added to Aristotle's unity of action by Italian and French critics of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Aristotle described tragedy as "an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude" and argued that drama must therefore exhibit "unity of action": an identifiable beginning, middle, and end; a harmonious correlation of whole and parts; a series of events which follow one another inevitably and are related in a causal sequence. Italian and French critics added unity of place -- the dramatic action must be confined to a small geographical area -- and unity of time-it must take place within the confines of a single day.
Aspects of literature which make it appeal to readers across history: the basic emotions, thoughts, attitudes, and values that are endemic to the human situation irrespective of time and place. The term "concrete universal" refers to the idea that literature achieves the universal through the concrete depiction of the particular.
The promotion, enhancement, or privileging of some key aspect of literary or theoretical analysis. For example, the New Critics valorize the autonomous literary object, whereas deconstructionists valorize the limitless free play of the system of signs
A group of deconstructionist critics -- Paul de Man, J. Hillis Miller, Harold Bloom, and Geoffrey Hartman -- who teach or taught at Yale University. (See also Deconstruction.)
Yale School