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DISCOURSE STYLISTICS Lang-Lit Interface Sussex University, May 2011. Geoff HALL

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Presentation on theme: "DISCOURSE STYLISTICS Lang-Lit Interface Sussex University, May 2011. Geoff HALL"— Presentation transcript:

1 DISCOURSE STYLISTICS Lang-Lit Interface Sussex University, May Geoff HALL

2 Outline 1. What is DS? 2. What relevance to the L-L ‘Interface’? 3. How does DS proceed in practice? 4. What might convincing DS look like? (Tennyson e.g. ‘Charge of Light Brigade’- a canonical historical text)

3 Carter & Simpson 1989 Fowler 1981, 21: “The absence of any necessary and sufficient linguistic criterion for the ‘literary’ text is well known” (quoted p. 13)

4 ‘Too narrow a focus on linguistic forms does not release what is essentially of interest in the study of literary texts’ (Carter and Simpson 1989: 4)

5 ‘The 1990s could well become the decade in which socio-historical and socio-cultural stylistic studies are a main preoccupation’ (Carter & Simpson)

6 Weber 1996: 3 ‘Meaning and stylistic effect are not fixed and stable, and cannot be dug out of the text as in an archaeological approach, but they have to be seen as a potential which is realized in a (real) reader’s mind, the product of a dialogic interaction between author, the author’s context of production, the text, the reader and the reader’s context of reception – where context includes all sorts of sociohistorical, cultural and intertextual factors.’

7 Simpson & Hall 2002 ‘Discourse stylistics views literary texts as instances of naturally occurring language use in a social context, where discourse analysis should reveal as much about the contexts as about the text.’ (136) ‘Discourse stylistics at its best will necessarily be a thoroughgoing interdisciplinary, even transdisciplinary, endeavour.’ (136)

8 ‘Discourse’ ‘Discourse’ is understood as ‘language in use’ ‘stylistics’ is the principled and systematic study of language in use- interpretation and the study of meaning through close interrogation of the formal features of texts recognising that formal features do not have self-evident meanings but do have contexts of use and histories of reception

9 Discourse analysis Discourse analysis considers the formal features of language in use at every level in pursuit of larger social and cultural questions: “WHY THIS HERE?” Literature is an instance of language in use – ‘social interaction’

10 Tennyson example ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ formal features, artistry (repetition, parallelism etc) and their functions use of sources to create a poem (after Ricks and McGann) cultural intertextualities and appropriations – discourses of militarism, masculinity

11 Formal features parallelism, alliteration, assonance, metre, rhyme etc. create a memorable poem use of imperative forms, inversions, imperfect rhymes, hurried and imperfect progression students need to spend time investigating formal features that they do not otherwise notice or refer to except partially and impressionistically

12 Use of sources: story into classic literature use of newspaper reports shows consistent mythologising and creation of literariness incl ‘literary’ diction (‘league’ replaces ‘miles’; Death/ Hell capitalised) 607 reduced to 600 for metre; Light Cavalry Brigade becomes Light brigade Nolan/ the captain becomes ‘someone’ had blundered (officer’s mistake no longer primary focus) ‘all the world wondered’ – the French officers wondered (see McGann)

13 Kipling 1915 “If any question why we died Tell them, because our fathers lied.” (Kipling 1915) film versions 1912 (silent b/w), 1936 (Errol Flynn), 1968 colour. 1970s ‘English school textbooks. Star Trek episode...

14 References Carter, R. & Simpson, P. (eds.) 1989 Language, Discourse and Literature London: Unwin Hyman. Fowler, R 1981 Literature as Social Discourse London: Batsford. Ricks, C. (ed) 1987 Poems of Tennyson in three volumes. Vol. 2. Editor’s Notes to Poem 315. (Charge) Harlow, Longman McGann, J. J. The Beauty of Inflections. pp Oxford: Clarendon Press. Simpson, P. and Hall, G Discourse analysis and stylistics. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 22: New York: Cambridge University Press, pp Weber, J.J Towards contextualized stylistics: an overview. In J.J. Weber (ed.) The Stylistics Reader. London: Arnold.


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