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English IV Literary Devices

Page history last edited by Don Pogreba 12 years ago
  • Aesthetics-"Philosophical investigation into the nature of beauty and the perception of beauty, especially in the arts; the theory of art or artistic taste."
  • Anaphora-repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences. "We shall not flag or fail. We shall go o­n to the end. We shall fight in France.
  • Asyndeton- The omission of a conjunction from a list ('chips, beans, peas, vinegar, salt, pepper').
  • Caesura: A strong pause within a line of verse.
  • Chiasmus- A term from classical rhetoric that describes a situation in which you introduce subjects in the order A, B, and C, and then talk about them in the order C, B, and A.
  • Conceit-A far-fetched simile or metaphor, a literary conceit occurs when the speaker compares two highly dissimilar things.
  • Diction-An author's choice of words. Since words have specific meanings, and since o­ne's choice of words can affect feelings, a writer's choice of words can have great impact in a literary work.
  • Didactic-A work "designed to impart information, advice, or some doctrine of morality or philosophy."
  • Epigraph-A brief quotation which appears at the beginning of a literary work.
  • Epigram- A pithy, sometimes satiric couplet or quatrain which was popular in classic Latin literature and in European and English literature of the Renaissance and the neo-Classical era.
  • Exegesis- Critical interpretation of a text, especially a biblical text; from the Greek ex- + egeisthai meaning "to lead out.
  • Farce-A type of comedy based o­n a humorous situation such as a bank robber who mistakenly wanders into a police station to hide. It is the situation here which provides the humor, not the cleverness of plot or lines.
  • Formalism- strict observance of the established rules, traditions and methods employed in the arts. Formalism can also refer to the theory of art that relies heavily o­n the organization of forms in a work rather than o­n the content.
  • Framing device-A story in which o­ne or more other stories are told. Examples include the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales and the play at the beginning of the Taming of the Shrew.
  • Homily- An inspirational saying or platitude.
  • In media res- in or into the middle of a sequence of events, as in a literary narrative.
  • Intentional fallacy-assuming from the text what the author intended to mean.
  • Interpolation-A passage included in an author’s work without his/her consent.
  • Intertextuality- Intertextuality is, thus, a way of accounting for the role of literary and extra-literary materials without recourse to traditional notions of authorship. A literary work, then, is not simply the product of a single author, but of its relationship to other texts and to the strucutures of language itself.
  • Inversion-reversal of the normal order of words for dramatic effect.
  • Juxtaposition-
  • Litotes-
  • Magical realism- a literary technique where the disbelief of the reader and writer produces a momentary shift in the real world wherein an element of the surreal enters and leaves with ease."
  • Metonymy: a figure of speech in which one references something or someone by naming one of its attributes.
  • Metric Feet
    • Anapest: Unstressed/unstressed/stressed (intervene)

      "twas the NIGHT before CHRISTmas and ALL through the HOUSE" (Clement Moore)

    • Dactyl: Stressed/unstressed/unstressed (Yesterday)

      "Grand go the years in the Crescent above them/ Worlds scoop their arcs/ and firmaments row" (Emily Dickinson)

    • Spondee: Stressed/stressed (True-blue)

  • Paradox-
  • Parody- a literary form in which the style of an author or particular work is mocked in its style for the sake of comic effect.
  • Pathetic fallacy- The attribution of human emotions or characteristics to inanimate objects or to nature; for example, angry clouds; a cruel wind.
  • Pastoral- Of, relating to, or being a literary or other artistic work that portrays or evokes rural life, usually in an idealized way.
  • Persona- In literature, the persona is the narrator, or the storyteller, of a literary work created by the author. As Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama puts it, the persona is not the author, but the author’s creation--the voice “through which the author speaks.”
  • Polemic- A controversial argument, especially o­ne refuting or attacking a specific opinion or doctrine.
  • Roman a clef- a novel in which actual persons and events are disguised as fictional characters.
  • Satire- A literary work which exposes and ridicules human vices or folly. Historically perceived as tending toward didacticism, it is usually intended as a moral criticism directed against the injustice of social wrongs.
  • Semantics-the study of the meaning of language, as opposed to its form.
  • Semiotics- theories regarding symbolism and how people glean meaning from words, sounds, and pictures.
  • Subtext-the hidden meaning lying behind the overt.
  • Synecdoche: a figure of speech in which a part of something stands for the whole or the whole for a part.
  • Trope- The intentional use of a word or expression figuratively, i.e., used in a different sense from its original significance in order to give vividness or emphasis to an idea. Some important types of trope are: antonomasia, irony, metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche.
  • Utopia/Dystopia-a utopia is an imaginary and indefinitely remote place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions. A dystopia is an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives; an imaginary place or state where everything is as bad as it possibly can be: or a description of such a place.


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