AP Literary Terms A-C

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  1. Allusion
    reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics, sports, science, or other branch of culture.

    And indirect reference to something (usually literature).
  2. Ambiguity
    deliberately suggesting two or more different, and sometimes conflicting, meanings in a work. An event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way--this is done on purpose by the author, when it is not done on purpose, it is vagueness, and detracts from the work.
  3. Analogy
    Comparison between two things to show how they are alike.
  4. Anaphora
    repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer's point more coherent.
  5. Anastrophe
    • inversion of the usual, normal, or logical order of the parts of a sentence. Purpose is rhythm or emphasis or euphony. 
    • it is a fancy word for inversion.
  6. Anecdote
    brief story, told to illustrate a point or serve as an example of something, often shows character of an individual.
  7. Antimetabole
    • Repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical order.
    • "One shoud eat to live, not live to eat." In poetry, this is called chiasmus.
  8. Aphorism
    • brief, cleverly worded statement that makes a wise observation about life, or of a principle of a general truth. 
    • Also called maxim or epigram.
  9. Asyndeton
    Commas used without conjunction to separate a series of words, thus emphasizing the parts equally: instead of X, Y, and Z... the writer uses X, Y, Z...
  10. Characterization: Flat Character
    has only one or two personality traits. They are one dimensional, like a piece of cardboard. They can be summed up in one phrase.
  11. Characterization: Round Character
    has more dimensions to their personalities--they are complex, just as real people are.
  12. Cliche
    a word or phrase that has become lifeless because of overuse.
  13. Colloquialism
    a word or phrase in everyday use in conversation and informal writing but is inappropriate for formal situations.
  14. comedy
    a story that ends with a happy resolution of the conflicts faced by the main character(s).
  15. confessional poetry
    a 20th century term used to describe poetry that uses intimate material from the poet's life.
  16. connotation
    • the associations and emotional overtones that have become attached to a word or phrase, in addition to its strict dictionary definition.
    • For instance, “Wall Street” literally means a street situated in Lower Manhattan but connotatively it refers to “wealth” and “power”
  17. couplet
    two consecutive rhyming lines of poetry
Card Set
AP Literary Terms A-C
Literary terms to know before the AP English Literature Exam
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