as an actual or existing fact; really. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[False cognate warning: Francophones will sometimes mistakenly use “actually” (or actual)
when they mean currently, presently, at the moment and up to date.]
allegory [. . .]
symbolic fictional narrative that conveys a second meaning (or meanings) beyond the explicit, literal details of the story (my definition, adapted from Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature). A simple allegory would be something like a story about Mary Whiteteeth and Johnny Toothbrush and their enemy named Sugar. The story, in this case, is not about these three characters but about the importance of brushing your teeth.
"[. . .] the term allegory can refer to specific method of reading a text."
IIn literature, an implied or indirect reference to a person, event, thing or a part of another text. [. . . ] Allusions to biblical
figures and figures from classical mythology are common in Western literature [. . .]. (Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of
1. With a capital letter (Apocrypha) it means a group of 14 books, not considered canonical, included in the Septuagint
and the Vulgate as part of the Old Testament, but usually omitted from Protestant editions of the Bible.
2. various religious writings of uncertain origin regarded by some as inspired, but rejected by most authorities.
3. writings, statements, etc., of doubtful authorship or authenticity. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. of doubtful authorship or authenticity.
2. of or pertaining to the Apocrypha, of doubtful sanction; uncanonical.
3. false; spurious: He told an apocryphal story about the sword, but the truth was later revealed. (Random House
1. a play, movie, etc., of light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the
central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion.
2. that branch of the drama which concerns itself with this form of composition.
3. the comic element of drama, of literature generally, or of life.
4. any literary composition dealing with a theme suitable for comedy, or employing the methods of comedy.
5. any comic or humorous incident or series of incidents. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
5. a standard; criterion: the canons of taste.
6. the books of the Bible recognized by any Christian church as genuine and inspired.
7. any officially recognized set of sacred books.
8. any comprehensive list of books within a field.
9. the works of an author that have been accepted as authentic: There are 37 plays in the Shakespeare canon.
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
Note that in literary studies the word "canon" has sometimes been used to identify those books considered to be part
of "great literature" and therefore worthy of study.
1. an excessively favorable opinion of one's own ability, importance, wit, etc.
2. something that is conceived in the mind; a thought; idea: He jotted down the conceits of his idle hours.
3. imagination; fancy.
4. a fancy; whim; fanciful notion.
5. an elaborate, fanciful metaphor, especially of a strained or far-fetched nature.
6. the use of such metaphors as a literary characteristic, esp. in poetry. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
Note: 5 and 6 (above) are the relevant definitions for literary studies.
1. to bring to a state of perfection; fulfill.
2. to complete (an arrangement, agreement, or the like) by a pledge or the signing of a contract: The company
consummated its deal to buy a smaller firm.
3. to complete (the union of a marriage) by the first marital sexual intercourse. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
"A modern term for the literary cult of heterosexual love that emerged among the French aristocracy from the late 11th
century onwards, with a profound effect on subsequent Western attitudes to love. [ . . . .] An elaborate code of behaviour
emerged around the tormented male lover's abject obedience to a disdainful, idealized lady, who was usually his social
superior. [. . . .] this form of adoration also imitated both feudal servitude and Christian worship, despite celebrating the
excitements of clandestine adultery (as in stories of Lancelot and Guinevere) rather than the then merely economic
relationship of marriage" (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms). A philosophy of love and a code of lovemaking
which flourished in chivalric times, first in France and later in other countries, especially in England. The exact origins of
the system cannot be traced, but fashions set by the Provençal troubadours and ideas drawn from the
Orient and especially from Ovid were probably the chief sources. The conditions of the feudal society and the
veneration of the Virgin Mary, both of which tended to give a new dignity and veneration to woman,* also affected it.
[. . . .] Andreas Capellanus late in the twelfth century wrote a treatise in which he summarized prevailing notions of
courtly love through imaginary conversations and through his thirty-one "rules"** (A Handbook to Literature).
*Note that in some interpretations of history, the Catholic Church raised the profile and importance of the Blessed
Virgin in order to counter the growing popularity and influence of courtly love.**In recent times, Ellen Fein and Sherrie
Sneider wrote a series of popular books with the repeated title of The Rules instructing women on how to behave on
dates and in relationships with men."
1. artfully or affectedly shy or reserved; slyly hesitant; coquettish.
2. shy; modest.
3. showing reluctance, especially when insincere or affected, to reveal one's plans or opinions, make a commitment,
or take a stand (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
If we deconstruct (that is, study the history) of the word “coy,” we will discover that it is most often applied to women. In fact,
being coy was for a long time considered part of traditional, typical and expected female behaviour. Being coy was considered
part of the “essence” of being a woman. Therefore, when a woman said “no,” it was understood that she really meant “yes.” The
word “coy” is a good example to demonstrate how sexism can be subtly inscribed in the language. In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet
actually apologizes to Romeo for her failing to be coy, but she tells him, “I’ll prove more true than those that have the cunning to
be strange.” “To be strange” here means the same thing as “to be coy.”
1. the husband of an unfaithful wife.
2. to make a cuckold of (a husband).
[ allusion to the cuckoo's habit of laying its eggs in other birds' nests] (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
a philosophical and critical movement, starting in the 1960s and especially applied to the study of literature, that questions all
traditional assumptions about the ability of language to represent reality and emphasizes that a text has no stable reference or
identification because words essentially only refer to other words [. . .] (Random House Unabridged Dictionary).
This term and its verb form, “to deconstruct,” are strongly associated with Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher, and a paper he
delivered in 1966 at Johns Hopkins University entitled “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” When
questioned after the presentation, Derrida defined deconstruction by saying: “Here or there I have used the word déconstruction,
which has nothing to do with destruction. That is to say, it is simply a question of (and this is the necessity of criticism in the
classical sense of the word) being alert to the implications, to the historical sedimentation of the language we use [. . .].” (Davis, Robert
Con ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism 497).
In Against Deconstruction, John M. Ellis pointed out that deconstruction turns out to be principally a movement against essentialism (35).
By deconstructing words, and therefore concepts, we discover that they are constructed over time within a culture and in relation to
other words. The meaning of a word does not come from its reference to an “essence” existing in reality and outside of language.
decorum ( noun)
2. the quality or state of being decorous; orderliness; regularity.
3. Usually, decorums. an observance or requirement of polite society.
1. of, pertaining to, or of the nature of logical argumentation.
3. the art or practice of logical discussion as employed in investigating the truth of a theory or opinion.
4. logical argumentation.
5. Often, dialectics.
a. logic or any of its branches.
b. any formal system of reasoning or thought.
1. the substitution of a harsh, disparaging, or unpleasant expression for a more neutral one.
2. an expression so substituted. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
The antonym (word meaning the opposite) is euphemism. Some examples of common dysphemisms are: "knocked up" (for pregnant),
"to fuck" (for " to have sexual intercourse"), "on the rag" (for "menstruating"), " pissed off" (for " angry").
dystopian writing is exemplified in H.G. Wells's The Time Machine (1895) and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). (Concise
Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)
1. serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: an earnest worker.
2. showing depth and sincerity of feeling: earnest words; an earnest entreaty.
3. seriously important; demanding or receiving serious attention.
Synonyms: fervent, intent, purposeful, determined, industrious, ambitious. EARNEST, RESOLUTE, SERIOUS, SINCERE imply having
qualities of depth and firmness. EARNEST implies having a purpose and being steadily and soberly eager in pursuing it: an earnest
student. RESOLUTE adds a quality of determination: resolute in defending the right. SERIOUS implies having depth and a soberness
of attitude that contrasts with gaiety and frivolity; it may include the qualities of both earnestness and resolution: serious and thoughtful.
SINCERE suggests genuineness, trustworthiness, and absence of superficiality: a sincere interest in music. (Random House
a short written composition in prose that discusses a subject or proposes an argument without claiming to be a complete or thorough
exposition. A minor literary form, the essay is more relaxed than the formal academic dissertation. The term ('trying out') was coined by
the French writer Michel de Montaigne in the tile of his Essais (1580), the first modern example of the form. Francis Bacon's Essays
(1597) began the tradition of essays in English. (Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)
The idea that words get their meanings from one-to-one correspondence with the “essences” of objects in the world.
1. conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.
2. a prescribed or accepted code of usage in matters of ceremony, as at a court or in official or other formal observances.
3. the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each
other: medical etiquette.
ETIQUETTE refers to conventional forms and usages: the rules of etiquette. DECORUM suggests dignity and a sense of what is
becoming or appropriate for a person of good breeding: a fine sense of decorum. PROPRIETY (usually plural) implies established conventions of morals and good taste: She never fails to observe the proprieties.
1. the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture.
2. a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one's own.
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. the derivation of a word.
2. an account of the history of a particular word or element of a word.
3. the study of historical linguistic change, esp. as manifested in individual words
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.
2. the expression so substituted: "To pass away'" is a euphemism for "to die." (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
The antonym (word meaning the opposite) is dysphemism. Some examples of euphemisms are: "being in a family way" (for "pregnant")
"having her lady's time" (for menstruating), "making love" or "being intimate" (for "having sexual intercourse"), "powder room" (for "toilet")
1. something that unavoidably befalls a person; fortune; lot: It is always his fate to be left behind.
2. the universal principle or ultimate agency by which the order of things is presumably prescribed; the decreed cause of events; time:
Fate decreed that they would never meet again.
3. that which is inevitably predetermined; destiny: Death is our ineluctable fate.
4. a prophetic declaration of what must be: The oracle pronounced their fate.
5. death, destruction, or ruin.
6. the Fates, in Classical Mythology, three goddesses of destiny, known to the Greeks as the Moerae and to the Romans as the Parcae.
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
spiritual belief). Fate is often an important theme in tragedy. We see this theme in Oedipus, the King and Romeo and
Juliet. Some readers might also see the theme of fate in Streetcar Named Desire.
A type or category of literature or film marked by certain shared features or conventions. The three broadest categories of genre include
poetry, drama, and fiction. These general genres are often subdivided into more specific genres and subgenres. For instance, precise examples of genres might include murder mysteries, westerns, sonnets, lyric poetry, epics, tragedies, etc. Bookstores, libraries, and services like Redbox or Netflix may label and subdivide their books or films into genres for the convenience of shoppers seeking a specific category of literature. (Literary Terms and Definitions at http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/lit_terms_G.html)
I have typically listed the literary genres as poetry, drama and prose, with prose divided in fiction and non-fiction, fiction into novels and
short stories. As you can see the number of genres can quickly expand and become a bit chaotic. I have found it useful to offer this pie
chart to illustrate the differences and connections among tragedy, comedy, satire and melodrama--the most typical genres of drama and
Comedy and tragedy are in direct opposition to each other in terms of their most typical features; nonetheless, there is a genre called
tragicomedy which incorporates features of both. Satire and melodrama are directly opposed to each other, but G.B. Shaw labelled his
play The Devil's Disciple "a melodrama," while intending it to be a satire. All variations are possible. However, the line between
side-by-side genres is sometimes blurry and often debated when it comes time to categorize a specific literary work. For example,
historically some critics have claimed that the play, Streetcar Named Desire isn't a tragedy, but that it is a melodrama. Both genres
share intense emotions as a potential feature. A melodrama shares features of both tragedy and comedy. Some comedies seem close
to melodrama, in particular, if they are love stories. We typically categorize these plays, films and stories as romantic comedies. Some
satires lean strongly toward comedy, like the short stories and novels of Kurt Vonnegut. Some satires lean toward tragedy like Orwell's
1984 and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.
The pie chart is useful in clarifying some of what is going on in the film adaptations of literary works; i.e. how much a work is being
transformed and effects of specific changes. For example, Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Who am this time?" is a comic satire, but is
transformed into a romantic comedy in the TV movie of the same name. By changing the ending of the play in the film version, Elia
Kazen transformed Streetcar Named Desire from a tragedy with satiric leanings into a melodrama. Film adaptation of A Handmaid's
Tale transformed the story into a melodrama, and so on.
1. the study of the way the sentences of a language are constructed; morphology and syntax.
2. these features or constructions themselves: English grammar.
3. an account of these features; a set of rules accounting for these constructions: a grammar of English.
4. Generative Grammar. a device, as a body of rules, whose output is all of the sentences that are permissible in a given language,
while excluding all those that are not permissible.
5. See prescriptive grammar.
6. knowledge or usage of the preferred or prescribed forms in speaking or writing: She said his grammar was terrible.
7. the elements of any science, art, or subject.
8. a book treating such elements. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. swiftness of motion; speed; celerity: He performed his task with great haste. They felt the need for haste.
2. urgent need of quick action; a hurry or rush: to be in haste to get ahead in the world.
3. unnecessarily quick action; thoughtless, rash, or undue speed: Haste makes waste. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
Adjective form is "hasty." Traditional expression "to make haste" means "to hurry" or "to rush."
an interpretive method, originally used to relate specific entities or events to the absolute idea, in which some assertible proposition
(thesis) is necessarily opposed by an equally assertible and apparently contradictory proposition (antithesis), the mutual contradiction
being reconciled on a higher level of truth by a third proposition (synthesis).
"the OED defines that which is 'hegemonic' as 'the ruling part, the master-principle'. Often used to refer to power which is so dominant
that it appears unquestionable, even natural" ("Glossary." Allen, Graham. Intertextuality).
The science of interpretation.
heterosexual ( adjective)
1. of, pertaining to, or exhibiting heterosexuality.
2. Biol. pertaining to the opposite sex or to both sexes.
3. a heterosexual person.
sexual feeling or behavior directed toward a person or persons of the opposite sex.
A figure of speech that is an intentional exaggeration for emphasis or comic effect. (Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature)
1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.
2. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.
1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a
person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her
—Synonyms: deceiver, dissembler, pretender, pharisee.
1.the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
2. such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for
putting it into operation.
3. in philosophy, the study of the nature and origin of ideas.a system that derives ideas exclusively from sensation.
4. theorizing of a visionary or impractical nature. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
in his book Ideology: An Introduction, Terry Eagleton describes ideology as follows: " A dominant power may legitimate itself by
promoting beliefs and values congenial to it; naturalizing and universalizing such beliefs so as to render them self-evident and
apparently inevitable; denigrating ideas which might challenge it; excluding rival forms of thought, perhaps by some unspoken but
systematic logic; and obscuring social reality in ways convenient to itself. Such `mystification', as it is commonly known, frequently
takes the form of masking or suppressing social conflicts, from which arises the conception of ideology as an imaginary resolution of
real contradictions" (5-6).
a term coined by Julia Kristeva to designate the various relationships that a given text may have with other texts. These intertextual relationships include anagram, allusion, adaptation, translation, parody, pastiche, imitation and other kinds of transformation. The literary theories of structuralism and post-structuralism, texts are seen to refer to other texts (or to themselves as texts) rather than to external reality. The term intertext has been used variously for a text drawing on other texts, for a text thus drawn upon, and for the
relationship between both. (Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)
In Intertextuality, Graham Allen describes "intertextuality" in the opening of the book this way:
The three traditional types of irony are:
i) verbal irony, saying something but you mean something else, sometimes the opposite (antiphrasis); this is the dictionary definition
(i.e., opposite meaning) but this is rare in real life and literature. When people think of "irony," what often comes to mind is "sarcasm,"
which is a low form of verbal irony.
ii) situational irony; when the opposite of what we expect to happen happens; also called the irony of fate; this strongly applies to
Oedipus, the King
iii) dramatic irony; so-called because it often occurs in plays (theatre, film and TV); a situation becomes amusing because we know
something that one or more of the characters doesn’t; example, John starts talking to his wife Mary about his “good friend” Steven
while Steven is hiding in the bedroom closet
Linda Hutcheon, in Irony's Edge, describes what she calls "semantic irony" as always having two meanings and those meanings rub
against each other. What is the final meaning of an ironic statement? Consider the rabbit/duck image:
As with the duck/rabbit image, irony “happens” when we are faced with two or more meanings and they conflict with each other.
We have to hold on to both (or all) the meanings.
The problem with these various descriptions and types of irony (verbal, situational, dramatic, semantic) is that they all seem so
different from one another. In my own thinking, Paul de Man's description of irony as an extended form of "parabasis" (179) is useful
because it is more encompassing and comprehensive than anything else I have encountered. "Parabasis," in de Man's words, "is the
interruption of a discourse by a shift in rhetorical register" (178).
I see the shift of register (of say from a serious tone to comic or vice versa, or maybe religious register to scientific, or formal to
vernacular) as the key to signaling verbal irony. The idea of "the interruption of a discourse" goes a long way in describing all forms
of irony. "Discourse" in a basic sense is just the way sentences are held or glued together with expression like "on the other hand,"
"however," "additionally" and "in conclusion." A discourse can be something broader and vaguer like the theme of a composition or
speech which we can demonstrate by noting repeated words, synonyms or concepts. Putting something into a speech that contracts
or seems to mock the seriousness of your own theme can be called "ironic." A "narrative discourse" is how a story is held together,
usually through a build-up of expectations based on the formulas that stories often follow or thematic elements and the ethos of the
characters. Irony in this case is a particular twist in the story that contradicts expectation in a particularly sharp, incisive, poetic and
surprising way; i.e, "situational irony." To reach my conclusion I have to invent another form of discourse, which I would have to call
"mental discourse" which is a mental construct of our expectations which erases the absolute distinction between a discourse and a
situation. Imagine you are looking out the window on a cold, rainy, sleet-filled day and a friend sidles up beside you and says
"Beautiful weather." You both know that he is being ironic because his comment contradicts, is incongruous in, this situation. I would
describe this situation as a "mental discourse" of expectations which his comment "interrupts." The same argument can be applied to
You might argue that the "interruption of a discourse" could be something random rather than ironic. I have noticed that many
instances of what I would call "ironic" and consequently comic or dramatic, my son and his cohort call "random." The ironic and
the random are clearly on the same axis.
To return to the pedagogical issue discussed in my posting on irony (Do No Harm Part II: Avoid Irony), keep in mind, that if you
employ irony in your teaching or lecturing, you are "interrupting" your own discourse.
1. in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the
literal meaning of a word.
2. following the words of the original very closely and exactly: a literal translation of Goethe.
3. true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual: a literal description of conditions.
4. being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy: the literal extermination of a city.
5. (of persons) tending to construe words in the strict sense or in an unimaginative way; matter-of-fact; prosaic. (Random House
1. pertaining to or of the nature of books and writings, especially those classed as literature: literary history.
2. pertaining to authorship: literary style.
3. versed in or acquainted with literature; well-read. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
5. (used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?
6. a love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
7. sexual intercourse; copulation.
8. (cap.) a personification of sexual affection, as Eros or Cupid.
9. affectionate concern for the well-being of others: the love of one's neighbor.
10. strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything: her love of books.
11. the object or thing so liked: The theater was her great love.
12. the benevolent affection of God for His creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.
13. Chiefly Tennis. a score of zero; nothing.
14. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter L.
15. for love,
a. out of affection or liking; for pleasure.
b. without compensation; gratuitously: He took care of the poor for love.
16. for the love of, in consideration of; for the sake of: For the love of mercy, stop that noise.
17. in love, infused with or feeling deep affection or passion: a youth always in love.
18. in love with, feeling deep affection or passion for (a person, idea, occupation, etc.); enamored of: in love with the girl next door;
in love with one's work.
19. make love,
a. to embrace and kiss as lovers.
b. to engage in sexual activity.
20. no love lost, dislike; animosity: There was no love lost between the two brothers.
21. to have love or affection for: All her pupils love her.
22. to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).
23. to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in: to love music.
24. to need or require; benefit greatly from: Plants love sunlight.
25. to embrace and kiss (someone), as a lover.
26. to have sexual intercourse with.
27. to have love or affection for another person; be in love.
28. love up, to hug and cuddle: She loves him up every chance she gets.
—Syn. 1. tenderness, fondness, predilection, warmth, passion, adoration. 1, 2. LOVE, AFFECTION, DEVOTION all mean a deep
and enduring emotional regard, usually for another person. LOVE may apply to various kinds of regard: the charity of the Creator,
reverent adoration toward God or toward a person, the relation of parent and child, the regard of friends for each other, romantic
feelings for another person, etc. AFFECTION is a fondness for others that is enduring and tender, but calm. DEVOTION is an i
ntense love and steadfast, enduring loyalty to a person; it may also imply consecration to a cause. 2. liking, inclination, regard,
friendliness. 21. like. 22. adore, adulate, worship.
—Ant. 1, 2. hatred, dislike. 21, 22. detest, hate. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. the hymen.
2. maidenhood; virginity.
1. a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a
resemblance, as in "A mighty fortress is our God.'
2. something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol (Random House Unabridged Dictionary).
1.pertaining to or of the nature of metaphysics.
2. In philosophy: concerned with abstract thought or subjects, as existence, causality, or truth. Concerned with first principles and
ultimate grounds, as being, time, or substance.
3. highly abstract, subtle, or abstruse.
4. designating or pertaining to the poetry of an early group of 17th-century English poets, notably John Donne, whose characteristic
style is highly intellectual and philosophical and features intensive use of ingenious conceits and turns of wit
a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is
a part, as "scepter' for "sovereignty,' or "the bottle' for "strong drink,' or "count heads (or noses)' for "count people." (Random House
See Wikipedia for a discussion of the concept of metonymy, as opposed to metaphor, and its importance in cognition and linguistics.
Few terms are so important to the student of literature--and so difficult--as this one. [. . . .] Both neoclassicists and romanticists would
"follow Nature"; but the former drew from the term ideas of order, regularity, and universality, both in "external" nature and in human
nature, while the latter found in nature the justification for their enthusiasm for irregularity ('wildness") in external nature and for
individualism in human nature. Other contradictory senses may be noted: the term nature might mean, on the one hand, human
nature (typical human behavior), or, on the other hand, whatever is antithetical to human nature and human works--ahs has not been
"spoiled" by human beings. (A Handbook to Literature)
a prose narrative fiction of considerable length and complexity
a figure of speech which seems incongruous or contradictory, or has a seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in "cruel kindness' or "to
make haste slowly." (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
In the poem "To His Coy Mistress," "vegetable love" is an example of an oxymoron. In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet tells Romeo that
"parting is such sweet sorrow." "Sweet sorrow" has become the most famous oxymoron in English literature. (Random House
A philosophic-religious attitude which finds the spirit of God manifest in all things and which holds that whereas all things speak the
glory of God it is equally true that the glory of God is made up of all things. Finite objects are at once both God and the manifestation
of God. The term is impossible to define exactly since it is so personal a conviction as to be differently interpreted by different
philosophers but for its literary significance, it is clearly enough described as an ardent faith in NATURE as both the revelation of
deity and deity itself. (A Handbook to Literature)
1. the attribution of a personal nature or character to inanimate objects or abstract notions, esp. as a rhetorical figure.
2. the representation of a thing or abstraction in the form of a person, as in art.
3. the person or thing embodying a quality or the like; an embodiment or incarnation: He is the personification of tact.
4. an imaginary person or creature conceived or figured to represent a thing or abstraction. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. a dramatic composition or piece; drama.
2. a dramatic performance, as on the stage. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
a composition in verse
term used to designate a multitude of trends in the arts, philosophy, religion, technology, and many other areas that come after and
deviate from the many 20th-century movements that constituted modernism. [. . .. ] Widely debated with regard to its meaning and
implications, postmodernism has also been said to relate to the culture of capitalism as it has developed since the 1960s. In general,
the postmodern view is cool, ironic, and accepting of the fragmentation of contemporary existence. It tends to concentrate on surfaces
rather than depths, to blur the distinctions between high and low culture, and as a whole to challenge a wide variety of traditional
cultural values. (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition)
Any of various theories or methods of analysis, including deconstruction and some psychoanalytic theories, that deny the validity of
structuralism's method of binary opposition and maintain that meanings and intellectual categories are shifting and unstable. (The
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.)
2. promiscuous sexual behavior.
3. an indiscriminate mixture.
1. characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, esp. having sexual relations with a number of partners on a
2. consisting of parts, elements, or individuals of different kinds brought together without order.
3. indiscriminate; without discrimination.
4. casual; irregular; haphazard.
—Syn. 1. unchaste. 2. hodgepodge, confused, mixed, jumbled. See miscellaneous. 3. careless.
—Ant. 1, 2. pure. 3. selective.
1. conformity to established standards of good or proper behavior or manners.
2. appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances; suitability.
3. rightness or justness.
4. the proprieties, the conventional standards of proper behavior; manners: to observe the proprieties.
psychoanalysis ( noun)
1. a systematic structure of theories concerning the relation of conscious and unconscious psychological processes.
2. a technical procedure for investigating unconscious mental processes and for treating psychoneuroses. (Random House
1. the humorous use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or suggest its different meanings or applications, or the use of words
that are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning; a play on words.
2. the word or phrase used in this way.
3. to make puns. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. a member of a group of Protestants that arose in the 16th century within the Church of England, demanding the simplifications
of doctrine and worship, and greater strictness in religious discipline: during part of the 17th century the Puritans became a powerful
2. a person who is strict in moral or religious matters, often excessively so. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
Note: When referring to a member of this religious group, "Puritan" is capitalized. When referring to someone who is "strict in moral
or religious matters" but not a member of the religious group, "puritan" is in lower case. The adjective form is "puritanical."
Middle English verb meaning "quench, extinguish, put an end to." ("Glossary." The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. 2nd Edtion, edited
by F.N. Robinson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1957.)
"pudendum" [that is, female genitalia, vulva, vagina] ("Glossary." The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. 2nd Edtion, edited by F.N. Robinson.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1957.)
"strange, curious, curiously contrived; elaborate, ornamented; neat; artful, sly; graceful; 'make it queynte,' be offish or disdainful, make
it strange or difficult; also show pleasure or satisfaction. ("Glossary." The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. 2nd Edtion, edited by F.N.
Robinson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1957.)
Note we can see both the noun and adjective forms of the Middle English word "queynte" in the description of Nicolas's first attempt
to make a pass at Alyson in "The Miller's Tale":
A character in a drama who is the level-headed, calm personification of reason and logical action. (A Handbook to Literature)
1. the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment.
2. the state or fact of being restored.
3. a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.
4. restitution of something taken away or lost.
5. something that is restored, as by renovating.
6. a reconstruction or reproduction of an ancient building, extinct animal, or the like, showing it in its original state.
7. a putting back into a former position, dignity, etc.
a. the work, process, or result of replacing or restoring teeth or parts of teeth.
b. something that restores or replaces teeth or parts of teeth, as a filling, crown, or denture.
9. the Restoration,
a. the re-establishment of the monarchy in England with the return of Charles II in 1660.
b. the period of the reign of Charles II (1660–85), sometimes extended to include the reign of James II (1685–88).
10. (cap) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the Restoration: Restoration manners.
English comedy of the period of the Restoration, stressing manners and social satire.
1. (in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast.
2. the art or science of all specialized literary uses of language in prose or verse, including the figures of speech.
3. the study of the effective use of language.
4. the ability to use language effectively.
5. the art of prose in general as opposed to verse.
6. the art of making persuasive speeches; oratory.
7. (in classical oratory) the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience.
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
"a text which ridicules [mocks] or ironically comments on socially recognizable tendencies [and the tendencies of a society] or the
style or form of another text or author" ("Glossary." Allen, Graham. Intertextuality).
The holster or case in which the blade of a sword or dagger is kept; a sheath. The English word "vagina" (1682) and the French word
"vagin" derive from the Latin "vagin" or "vagino" meaning scabbord or sheath. Pictures of scabbards and swords.
semiotics, or semiolgogy
"The systematic study of signs, or, more precisely, of the production of meanings from sign-systems, linguistic or non-linguistic"
(Baldick, Chris. Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms). "Sign-systems can be any recognizable field of human communication.
Clothing might signify withing the cultural fashion system, for example. semiotics and semiology as developed in structuralism and
poststructuralism can treat anything emanating from a signifying system as a text to be read" (Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. "Glossary.").
short story (noun)
a piece of prose fiction, usually under 10,000 words. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. the imposition of penance by a priest on a penitent after confession.
2. absolution or remission of sins granted after confession and penance.
3. confession to a priest. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in "she is like a rose." (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
1. any theory that embodies structural principles.
2. See structural anthropology.
3. See structural linguistics." a movement which stems particularly from Saussure's vision of semiology, the study of all the
sign-systems operative in culture. Structuralism took texts, from works of literature to aspects of everyday communication, and
accounted for them in terms of the system from which they were produced" ("Glossary." Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. )
a school of anthropology founded by Claude Lévi-Strauss and based loosely on the principles of structural linguistics
1. approach to language study in which a language is analyzed as an independent network of formal systems, each of which is
composed of elements that are defined in terms of their contrasts with other elements in the system. (Random House Unabridged
1. a dramatic composition, often in verse, dealing with a serious or somber theme, typically that of a great person destined through a
flaw of character or conflict with some overpowering force, as fate or society, to downfall or destruction.
2. the branch of the drama that is concerned with this form of composition.
3. the art and theory of writing and producing tragedies.
4. any literary composition, as a novel, dealing with a somber theme carried to a tragic conclusion.
5. the tragic element of drama, of literature generally, or of life.
6. a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster: the tragedy of war.
[[ goat + song; reason for name variously explained] (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
" . . . all that sets the text in a relationship, whether obvious or concealed, with other texts" (Genette, Gérard. Palimpsests: Literature
in the Second Degree). Genette's term "transtextuality" is his particular variation on the idea most other critics call intertextuality. He
reduces the term intertextuality to "a relationship of copresence between two texts or among several texts . . . the actual presence
of one text within another." ("Glossary." Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. )
Genette categories the various forms of transtextuality; that is, all the possible relations between two texts, as follows:
i) intertextuality: quotation, allusion and plagiarism
ii) paratextuality: titles, covers, epigraphs, introductions
iii) metatextual: a critical relationship
iv) architextuality: genre suggested by title
v) hypertextuality: hypertext to hypotext; film adaptations are often described as "hypertexts" with the literary upon which the film is
based called a "hypotext"
Utopia [or utopia] (noun)
1. an imaginary island described in Sir Thomas More's Utopia (1516) as enjoying perfection in law, politics, etc.
2. an ideal place or state.
3. any visionary system of political or social perfection. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[literally, "utopia" = no where]
to seek the favor [favour], affection, or love of, especially with a view to marriage.
Synonyms: court, pursue, chase.
Origin: before 1050; Middle English "wowe," Old English "wōgian" (Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.)
As discussed in my earlier posting, "How to Make Love to a Logophile," until the 1920s the expression "to make love" meant "to court"
or "to woo." "Woo" is used a half dozen times in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. My favourite instance occurs when Juliet realizes
that she has not followed the proper feminine behaviour according to the rules of courtly love and tells Romeo:
"[. . .]if thou think'st I am too quickly won,
I'll frown and be perverse an say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; [. . .]"
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