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72 Cards in this Set

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Absurdist Theatre (or Theatre of the Absurd)
Dramatic works of the mid twentieth century -- by authors like Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, and Jean Genet -- who seemed to express the idea of the absurdity and meaninglessness of the human situation. An important source of such ideas were the writings of the French existentialist philosopher Albert Camus ("The Myth of Sisyphus," 1942).
Allegory
A form of symbolism in which persons, objects, or actions are equated with meanings that are far removed from the entities which represent them. Thus, allegory represents one thing in the guise of another and generally involves an abstract idea which is personified or otherwise presented as a concrete image (example: a woman holding a torch is an allegory for the idea of "liberty").
Antiquity
The period of human history from around 3,000 B.C. to the fall of the Roman empire (around 476 A.D.). Followed by the Middle Ages.
Bildungsroman
A novel involving the moral, spiritual, intellectual, and/or emotional education of a young hero or heroine
Black Comedy
A literary genre involving the use of the morbid and the absurd for darkly comic purposes; the term refers as much to the tone of anger and bitterness as it does to the grotesque and morbid situations characteristic of the genre; also referred to as "tragic farce."
Blank Verse
Lines of unrhymed verse, usually iambic pentameter
Bloomsbury Group
Group of thinkers, artists, and writers, many of whom lived in the residential district of London known as Bloomsbury, near the British Museum; the group began meeting in 1907; became a powerful force in British literary and intellectual life in the 1920's and 1930's; inspired by the belief that "the pleasures of human intercourse [interaction] and the enjoyment of beautiful objects" are the result of social progress; members included Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, E. M. Forster, Duncan Grant, and David Garnett.
Canto
Each one of the sections or chapters in a poetic epic like Dante's Divine Comedy. The word "canto" literally means "song"
Classicism
Style, attitudes, and ideas in art and literature inspired by, and including, the culture of classical antiquity (ancient Greece and Rome). The values of classicism are harmony, proportion, clarity, elegance, simplicity, restraint, ideality and universality.
Comedy
A dramatic literary genre generally defined as the opposite of tragedy and characterized by the portrayal of amusing situations featuring ordinary people in ordinary situations. Comedy often begins with a sad or difficult situation but ends happily. Comedy has also been described as having a corrective or punitive character--often ridiculing or satirizing problematic human behavior. The endings of comedies frequently feature marriages or reunions of characters formerly separated by adverse circumstances.
Contrapasso
The idea that sin = punishment; divine retribution in Dante's Divine Comedy; it literally means the "counter-step" and is a notion similar to Karma and Fate; what you do is what you get
Couplet
2 lines of verse which rhyme with each other.
Dactyl
A poetic foot or unit consisting of one stressed (or long) syllable followed by two unstressed (or short) syllables.
Dactylic Hexameter
A poetic meter common in epic poetry and characterized by lines of six poetic "feet," each consisting of one long and two short syllables (or one stressed and two unstressed syllables).
Deus Ex Machina
Generally refers to a forced or highly artificial intervention or event which resolves a difficult situation in a literary work. The term is Latin for "god from a machine" and referred originally to the use of machinery, in Greek and Latin drama, to lower an actor, playing the role of a divine being, onto the stage.
Dramatic Monologue
A poem in which a first-person speaker addresses an imaginary audience.
Empiricism
The theory that the foundation of knowledge, mainly in the natural sciences, should be experience, observation, and experiment involving the data provided by the material, objective world.
Enlightenment
European literary and philosophical movement which took place roughly between 1660 and 1770. Also called the Age of Reason. Central ideas and values of the Enlightenment include a belief in the powers of reason to understand nature and guide the human existence; a belief in the essential equality and dignity of all people and in basic human rights to freedom and happiness; a challenge to ignorance, superstition, deception, tyranny, and oppressive traditions; a humane and rational approach to the organization of human life and society; an emphasis on moderation, proportion, and balance.
Epic
Long narrative poem employing elevated language and telling of the deeds of a legendary or historical hero. Epics often involve complex sequences of adventures as well as an underlying philosophical and/or moral understanding of human actions, choices, consequences, fate, and the course of events.
Existentialism
A philosophical movement of the 19th and 20th centuries stressing individual freedom and human choice; existentialism is primarily based on the idea that human beings shape their own existence and give meaning to it through their own choices and actions. The main figure in existentialism was the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980).
Foot
A unit of rhythm in verse defined by a certain number and order of stressed and unstressed (or short and long) syllables. Examples of feet are the iamb (one unstressed followed by a stressed syllable) and the trochee (one stressed followed by an unstressed syllable).
Free verse
Term referring to the use of verse which is not metrical or whose meter is irregular.
Genre
The general type or form of a literary work such as poetry, drama, novel, short story, etc. A sub-genre of poetry is, for example, lyric poetry.
Harlem Renaissance
From 1920 until about 1930 an unprecedented outburst of creative activity among African-Americans occurred in all fields of art. Beginning as a series of literary discussions in the lower Manhattan (Greenwich Village) and upper Manhattan (Harlem) sections of New York City, this African-American cultural movement became known as "The New Negro Movement" and later as the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance exalted the unique culture of African-Americans and its heritage. Representative figures include Langston Hughes and Alain Locke.
Hubris
Excessive pride displayed by a character and often taking the form of a boastful comparison of the self to the divine, the gods, or other higher powers--often also resulting in harsh punishment.
Humanism
A Renaissance philosohical and educational movement emphasizing the importance and dignity of the human existence and seeking knowlege and understanding of all matters pertaining to earthly, secular life. Central aspects of Humanism include its interest in the educational philosohies of classical antiquity, the development of human virtues and potentials, and the reform of culture for the betterment of human life. Humanism originated in Italy in the 14th century in the work and ideas of figures like Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch), and Giovanni Boccaccio.
Iamb
A group (also called a foot) of two syllables where the first is unstressed and the second stressed. Examples: | to bé | or nót | to bé | (three iambs or three iambic feet).
Iambic Pentameter
A verse line consisting of 10 syllables arranged in 5 iambs.
Irony
The use of language to express something quite different from or opposite to its literal meaning.
Lai (Lay)
Poetic narrative in verses of 4-8 syllables and rhymed stanzas of 6-16 lines. The genre is supposed to have Breton/Celtic origins and was used by northern French poets and storytellers, such as Marie de France, around the 12th century.
Magical Realism
A modern Latin-American narrative technique characterized by the mixing of the real and the fantastic. The best-known figure in magical realism is the Colombian writer Gabriel García-Márquez.
Metaphysical Poets
School of seventeenth-century British poets (e.g John Donne, Andrew Marvell, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Richard Crashaw, John Cleveland, Abraham Cowley) with an interest in psychological analysis of the emotions, love, and the combining of the secular and the sacred, the abstract and the particular; metaphysical poetry features a complex perception of life, conciseness of language, wit, directness.
Meter
The recurrence in poetry of a rhythm established by a pattern of stressed and unstressed (or long and short) syllables. The basic unit or pattern of meter is called the foot.
Middle Ages
The period of Western history from the fall of the Roman empire (476 A. D.) until the fall of Constantinople to the Turks (1453 A. D.). Also known as the Medieval Period and the "Dark Ages." The Middle Ages were characterized by feudalism (rule by independent war-lords and a subjected peasantry) and the dominance of the Catholic Church. Preceded by Antiquity and followed by the Renaissance.
Modernism
Term referring to art, literature, and music of the late 19th and the 20th century; a form of protest against the industrialized, militaristic, business-oriented, mechanical, bureaucratic, and technological nature of the modern world; literary modernism focuses on breaking away from rules and conventions, searching for new perspectives and points of view, experimenting in form and style, the avant-garde; some modernists placed emphasis on art for its own sake; language and writing as an experience in themselves, without external referents; interest in subjectivity, the internal, psychic life of characters and the construction of reality from those inner perspectives; movements associated with modernism include Surrealism, Existentialism, Formalism, Symbolism, Dadaism, Expressionism, Impressionism, and others.
Naturalism
A variety of Realism featuring an even greater emphasis on the depiction of social, political and economic struggles and calling for scientific accuracy in the representation of even very graphic, and at times unpleasant, aspects of the human existence. The most notable of the Naturalist writers was Émile Zola (1840-1902).
Neoclassicism
Styles, attitudes, and ideas in European art and literature during the 17th and 18th centuries and characterized by inspiration in the models from classical antiquity; a reaction against the enthusiasm of the Renaissance; reverence for order, reason, and rules. Neoclassicism is closely associated with the ideas of the Enlightenment.
Noh Drama
A highly stylized, abstract, and philosophical type of Japanese play influenced by Zen Buddhism and Shinto religious rituals. The word "Noh" means "talent" or "skill." Noh plays are very austere poetic dramas involving music, song, dance, and wooden masks. Noh plays often involve ghosts or ghostly characters and emphasize, through symbolism and stylized gestures, the formal, abstract, and spiritual aspects of human action and emotion. A pine tree painted on the wall is a feature of all Noh stages.
Parody
The imitation of a work or an author's style or ideas for the purposes of ridicule.
Pastoral
Pastoral
A variety of literary works dealing with the lives of shepherds and intended to represent ideals of a peaceful, humble, and productive life contrasting with the destruction, pillaging, and arrogant pride often depicted in genres such as epic
Personification
The representation of a thing or idea as having human characteristics or identity.
Postcolonialism
A cultural, intellectual, political, and literary movement of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries characterized by the representation and analysis of the historical experiences and subjectivities of the victims, individuals and nations, of colonial power. Postcolonialism is marked by its resistance to colonialism and by the attempt to understand the historical and other conditions of its emergence as well as its lasting consequences.
Postmodernism
A cultural and intellectual trend of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries characterized by emphasis on the ideas of the decenteredness of meaning, the infinite possibilities of the human existence, and the coexistence, in a kind of collage of different cultures, perspectives, time periods, and ways of thinking. Postmodernism claims to address the sense of despair and fragmentation of modernism through its efforts at reconfiguring the broken pieces of the modern world into a multiplicity of new social, political, and cultural arrangements.
Prose
Ordinary language, resembling the natural flow of speech. The opposite of poetry.
Quatrain
A stanza of four lines.
Realism
A style in art and literature emphasizing the faithful representation of human life and social reality; realist artists often focused on the plight of the poor and the working classes and called for social reforms and the end of exploitation and injustice; preferred subjects include the normal, the everyday, the humble, the common, the practical; realism encourages an objective perspective and somewhat detached position on the part of the artist or author.
Renaissance
The period of Western history from about 1453 A. D. (fall of Constantinople to the Turks) to about 1650. Characterized by a renewal of interest in the pagan cultures of Antiquity (particularly Greece and Rome) and a surge of intellectual, scientific, commercial, and artistic activity. Emphasis on the self, the enjoyment of earthly life, exploration, discovery, and empirical methods. Followed by the Enlightenment.
Rhetoric
An art involving the use of language (especially in persuasion.)
Romanticism
Movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in literature, philosophy, religion, art, and politics which was a reaction against Neoclassicism; stressed freedom from restraints and rules; also emphasized individualism, creativity, revolutionary political ideas, the use of the imagination over reason, reverence for nature, interest in the Middle Ages, mystery, transcendence, synthesis, and universality.
Satire
A work that blends a critical attitude with humor and wit as well as with the intention of improving human institutions or humanity.
Simile
An explicit comparison between two objects, situations, etc. involving the use of the words "like" or "as" in establishing the given comparison.
Socialist Realism
A literary movement defined in Russia in 1932 as having the purpose of promoting socialist ideals (social and economic equality, the satisfaction of the needs of all, and the providing of opportunities for education and the development of human potentialities); the ambition of works of socialist realism is the faithful representation of life, the unmasking of ideological deceptions, and the revelation of people's actual conditions of existence (social, political, and economic).
Stanza
A grouping of two or more verse lines which may be defined by the number of lines, line length, metrical form, and/or rhyme scheme.
Stream of Consciousness
A literary technique involving expression through a flow of words, images, and ideas similar to the unorganized flow of the mind; the term was originally coined by William James, in his Principles of Psychology (1890), where it referred to the flow of inner mental phenomena.
Surrealism
A movement in art emphasizing imaginative expression as realized in dreams and presented without conscious control; focus on the representation of unconscious processes, the irrational, and juxtaposition of seemingly incongruous images following a logic of free association. Surrealism originated in France in the 1920's as a development of Dadaism. The movement's first manifesto was issued by André Breton in 1924. Representative artists of the movement include Breton and Salvador Dali.
Synecdoche
A figure of speech involving the use of a part to represent the whole, e.g. "a sail!" meaning "a ship!"
Tercet
A stanza or group of three poetic lines.
Tragedy
A type of play characterized by the depiction and dramatic treatment of misfortunes, disasters, and/or the death of the main protagonists. The opposite of comedy. The main protagonist(s) is often afflicted by a "tragic flaw" which leads to tragic outcomes. Aeschylus (525-456 BC), Sophocles (496-406 BC), Euripides (c. 480-406 BC). The plays became very popular as part of dramatic competitions during the Dionysia or festival in honor of Dionysus.
Trimeter
A verse line of three feet (see Meter and Foot).
Trochee
A poetic foot or unit consisting of one stressed (or long) syllable followed by an unstressed (or short) syllable. The opposite of an iamb.
Trope
A figure of speech involving the figurative use of a term. The term is derived from Greek tropos "a turn".
Formalism
general term covering several similar types of literary criticism that arose in the 1920s and 1930s, flourished during the 1940s and 1950s, and are still in evidence today. Formalists study the form of the work (rather than the content) focusing on features of the text itself rather than on the contexts of its creation (biographical, historical or intellectual) or its reception. Some recent trends in academic literary criticism suggest that formalism may be making a comeback. Formalism developed as a reaction to the practice of interpreting literary texts by relating them to "extrinsic" issues, such as the historical circumstances and politics of the era in which the work was written, or the experiences and frame of mind of its author. Russian formalism was the first major formalist movement.
New Criticism
(a type of formalism) is an American approach to literature that reached its height in the 1940s and 1950s. It advocates a close reading and attention to texts themselves, and rejects criticism based on extra-textual sources, especially biography. New Critics see the text as complete with in itself, written for its own sake, not dependent on its relation to the author's life, intent, or history. Weaknesses: - That it ignores diversity - That a piece of literature can be important because it represents values that segments of the culture believe are important, or can help us understand our history. - That context is just as important as form to understanding a work.
Psychoanalytic Criticism
originated in the work of Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who pioneered the technique of psychoanalysis. His theories are concerned with the unconscious mind. After 1950, psychoanalytic critics began to emphasize the ways in which authors create works that appeal to readers‘ repressed wishes and fantasies. Consequently, they shifted their focus away from the author‘s psyche toward the psychology of the reader and the text.
Marxist criticism
type of criticism in which literary works are viewed as the product of work. Marxist critics emphasize the role of class and ideology as they reflect or challenge the prevailing social order. Rather than viewing texts as repositories for hidden meanings, Marxist critics view texts as material products to be understood in broadly historical terms.
Feminist Criticism
became a dominant force in Western literary studies in the late 1970s. American feminist critics of the 1970s and early 1980‘s examined how women characters are portrayed, exposing the patriarchal ideology implicit in the literary canon. They also studied writings by women and to find out how women writers across the ages have perceived themselves. Today‘s feminist critics view "women" as members of different societies with different concerns. Feminists of color, Third World (preferably called postcolonial) feminists, and lesbian feminists have stressed that women are not defined solely by the fact that they are female; other attributes (such as religion, class, and sexual orientation) are also important, making the problems and goals of one group of women different from those of another.
Reader-Response Criticism
literary critical theory which suggests that a text gains meaning by the act of a reader reading and interpreting it. In introducing the value of the reader, reader response criticism shares much with new historicism. The difference is that the reader may not be interested in exploring the writer‘s intention. Reader-response theory stands in total opposition to the text-
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oriented theories of formalism and the New Criticism, in which the reader's role interpreting literary works are not taken into account.
Structuralism
appealing to some critics because it adds a scientific objectivity, to literary studies (which have often been criticized as purely subjective). This scientific objectivity is achieved by studying the structure of a system. In this way of looking at narratives, the author is canceled out, since the text is a function of a system, not of an individual; argues that any piece of writing has no origin, and that authors merely inhabit pre-existing structures. Hence every text, and every sentence we speak or write, is made up of the "already written." Since structuralism is an approach to analyzing literature that examines underlying structure, a structuralist might say that the authors of West Side Story did not write anything "really" new, because their work has the same structure as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
Deconstruction
involves the close reading of texts in order to demonstrate that any given text has contradictory meanings, rather than being a unified, logical whole. As J. Hillis Miller, the preeminent American deconstructor, explained, "Deconstruction is not a dismantling of the structure of a text, but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself. Its apparently solid ground is no rock but thin air." arose as a response to structuralism and formalism. Formalist critics, such as the New Critics, assume that a work of literature is a freestanding, self-contained object whose meaning can be found in the relations between its parts (allusions, images, rhythms, sounds, etc.). Deconstructors reject the formalist view that a work of literary art is unified from beginning to end, in one certain way, or that it is organized around a single center that ultimately can be identified.
Post-structuralism
coined in the United States in the mid - to late 1960s to describe mostly French language scholarship that challenged the primacy of structuralism. When poststructuralists approach texts the point is to show that there are truths resistant to scientific methodology. Poststructuralists are not anti-science, but they see important dimensions that cannot be accounted for from within science. Poststructuralism sees 'reality' as being much more fragmented, diverse, and tenuous than does structuralism. Post-structuralism includes the idea that we live in a linguistic universe. This means we can imagine only what we can symbolize, speak of only what we have language for. The critical point is the limits of knowledge, the impossibility of final theories or final truths.
New Historicism (also called ―Contextualism‖)
developed in the 1980s, and widespread influence in the 1990s. It is an approach to literary criticism that focuses on a work‘s historical content and the relationship between the text and historical contexts (such as the author‘s life or intentions in writing the work). It is a reaction against the "New Criticism.‖ It is influenced by the poststructuralist and reader-response theories of the 1970s, as well as by the thinking of feminist, cultural, and Marxist critics whose work was new in the 1980s.
Postcolonial Criticism
cultural criticism which involves the analysis of literary texts produced in countries that have come under the control of European colonial powers at some point in their history. Postcolonial criticism focuses on the way in which the colonizing First World invents false, stereotypical images