Language Activity B Literary Terms

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  1. ambiguity
    multiple meaning; lack of clarity in a work consciously used as a phase of the author’s view of his/her world or characters and reflecting the vagueness of life
  2. anachronism
    the incorporation of an event, scene, or person who does not correspond with the time period portrayed in the work
  3. antithesis
    the rhetorical opposition or contrast of words, clauses, or sentences
  4. archetype
    a plot that repeats basic historical or primitive life patterns; from the psychology of Carl Jung
  5. bombast
    inflated language; the use of high-sounding language for a trivial subject
  6. catharsis
    a cleansing of the spirit of the spectator at a tragedy through experiencing the emotions of pity an terror, as expressed in Aristotle’s Poetics
  7. empathy
    a feeling of association or identification with an object; experiencing its sensations and responding with similar feelings
  8. foil
    a character in a work of literature whose physical or psychological qualities contrast strongly with, and therefore highlight, the corresponding qualities of another character
  9. flashback
    returning to an earlier time in a story or play for the purpose of clarifying present actions or circumstances
  10. foreshadowing
    providing hints of things to come in a story or play
  11. litotes
    a form of understatement in which the negative of the contrary is used to achieve emphasis and intensity
  12. sentiment
    refined and tender emotion in literature; sometimes used derisively to represent insincerity or mawkishness
  13. mode
    an attribute or quality of a thing; a work of literature may be written in a particular mode
  14. motif
    a device that serves as a unifying agent in conveying a theme; a recurrent image, phrase, or idea
  15. verisimilitude
    similar to truth; the quality of realism in a work that persuades the reader that he/she is getting a vision of life as it is
  16. allegory
    a narrative technique in which characters representing things or abstract ideas are used to convey a message or teach a lesson. Allegory is typically used to teach moral, ethical, or religious lessons but is sometimes used for satiric or political purposes.
  17. anti-novel
    a term coined by French critic Jean-Paul Sartre. It refers to any experimental work of fiction that avoids the familiar conventions of the novel. The anti-novel usually fragments and distorts the experience of its characters, forcing the reader to construct the reality of the story from a disordered narrative.
  18. bildungsroman
    a German word meaning "novel of development." The bildungsroman is a study of the maturation of a youthful character, typically brought about through a series of social or sexual encounters that lead to self-awareness
  19. dramatic monologue
    a type of poem or prose piece in which the speaker gives an account of a dramatic moment in his/her life and, in doing so, reveals his/her character
  20. elegy
    a poem or piece of prose lamenting or meditating on the death of a person or pet
  21. epilogue
    a concluding statement or section of a literary work
  22. episodic plot
    a plot consisting of a series of disconnected events
  23. epistolary novel
    a novel in the form of letters. The form was particularly popular in the eighteenth century.
  24. epithet
    a word or phrase, often disparaging or abusive, that expresses a character trait of someone or something
  25. exposé
    a piece of writing, often journalistic, meant to reveal or expose weakness, faults, frailties, or other shortcomings
  26. fable
    a short story designed to teacher a useful lesson; its characters are usually animals or inanimate things
  27. fantasy
    the creation of unreal worlds and people, bearing a relation to the real
  28. humanism
    in common usage, the attitude that emphasizes human interests; an optimistic view of human potential
  29. montage
    a quick succession of images or pictures to express an idea; used primarily in films
  30. moral
    the lesson a reader infers from a story, poem, or other piece of literature
  31. myth
    a solidly conceived, but entirely imaginative world, with beliefs and values, created by an author; a story that forms part of the beliefs of a faith in which people no longer believe
  32. novel of ideas
    a novel in which the examination of intellectual issues and concepts takes precedence over characterization or a traditional storyline
  33. novel of manners
    a novel that examines the customs and mores of a cultural group
  34. parable
    similar to allegory, but shorter; a story in which the author intends that the reader will relate the events of the story to some moral or spiritual truth
  35. picaresque novel
    episodic fiction depicting the adventures of a roguish central character ("picaro" is Spanish for "rogue"). The picaresque hero is commonly a low-born but clever individual who wanders into and out of various affairs of love, danger, and farcical intrigue. These involvements may take place at all social levels and typically present a humorous and wide-ranging satire of a given society.
  36. roman à clef
    a novel describing real-life events behind a façade of fiction. The "key", not present in the text, is the correlation between events and characters in the novel and events and characters in real life.
  37. Agrarians
    A group of Southern American writers of the 1930s and 1940s who fostered an economic and cultural program for the South based on agriculture, in opposition to the industrial society of the North. The term can refer to any group that promotes the value of farm life and agricultural society.
  38. Apollonian
    As distinguished from Dionysian, Apollonian refers to the noble qualities of human beings and nature as opposed to the savage and destructive forces.
  39. baroque
    In a strict sense, baroque refers to an elaborate style of architecture that followed classicism; in general usage, it refers to elaborate and unstructured style.
  40. burlesque
    A literary composition that aims to provoke laughter by ridiculing serious works; a grotesque imitation of the dignified or pathetic.
  41. classicism
    Classicism derives from the orderly qualities of ancient Greek and Roman culture; usually implies objectivity and simplicity, restraint and formality.
  42. colloquialism
    A word, phrase, or form of pronunciation that is acceptable in casual conversation but not in formal, written communication.
  43. deus ex machina
    As in Greek theatre, deus ex machina is the employment of any artificial device or gimmick that the author uses to solve a difficult situation.
  44. Dionysian
    As distinguished from Apollonian, Dionysian refers to the sensual, pleasure-seeking qualities of man and nature.
  45. Existentialism
    As expressed in the works of such writers as Kafka, Camus, and Faulkner, Existentialism is a view of life that emphasizes existence as opposed to essence; human beings are presented as unable to solve the basic enigmas of life.
  46. Expressionism
    A form of art in which the artist depicts the inner essence of man and projects his view of the world as colored by that essence.
  47. hamartia
    Aristotle’s term for the protagonist’s tragic flaw or tragic error of judgment.
  48. Transcendentalism
    A form or romanticism, largely of a philosophical nature. Associated with Emerson and Thoreau.
  49. Surrealism
    In literature and art, an attempt to reproduce and interpret the visions and images of the unconscious mind as manifested in dreams; characterized by an irrational arrangement of bizarre experiences
  50. Romanticism
    In literature and in art, the depiction of idealized, fabulous, or fantastic characters and events; the stories abound in dashing, extravagant adventures, characters of extreme virtues or faults, exotic worlds, strong and inflexible loyalties, and idealized love-making.
  51. regionalism
    Literature associated with a particular geographical region, as revealed in content, style, or employment of dialects.
  52. realism
    In literature and art, the depiction of people, things, and experiences as it is believed they really are without idealization or exaggeration; in recent use, it has often been used synonymously with naturalism, as depicting events that are unpleasant or sordid.
  53. Post-modernism
    Writing from the 1950s forward characterized by experimentation and continuing to apply some of the fundamentals of modernism, which included existentialism and alienation. Postmodernists have gone a step further in the rejection of tradition begun with the modernists by also rejecting traditional forms, preferring the anti-novel over the novel and the anti-hero over the hero.
  54. naturalism
    Based on the theories of Emile Zola , this literary movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries sought to examine human life with the objectivity of scientific inquiry. Works tended to focus on the biological and sociological causality of poverty, insanity, disease, alcoholism, and prostitution.
  55. Neoclassicism
    Also known as the Age of Reason or the Enlightenment, Neoclassicism describes a period in European history spanning the end of the seventeenth century through 1800. The period is marked by a revival of interest in classical forms of literary and artistic expression, emphasizing a return to order, logic, proportion, restraint, accuracy, and decorum.
  56. Modernism
    Literary era spanning from the beginning of the twentieth century through World War II. Modernism is characterized by its rejection of the literary conventions of the nineteenth century and by its opposition to conventional morality, taste, traditions, and economic values. Modernist writers experimented not only with content but with form, perspective, and style.
  57. Impressionism
    In writing, the presentation of the salient features of a scene, event, or person as they appear to the author at the time; a highly personal approach.
  58. hubris
    Aristotle’s term for the pride of the tragic hero that leads him to ignore or overlook warnings of impending disaster or to break moral laws.
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Language Activity B Literary Terms
2012-04-19 01:43:45

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