Presentation on theme: "Professor of English Language University of Huddersfield"— Presentation transcript:
1 Professor of English Language University of Huddersfield Opposition in poetryLesley JeffriesProfessor of English LanguageUniversity of Huddersfield
2 Audience participation bit... Write down a nounCollect up another noun from your neighbourPut them into one of the following frames:She wanted a X. He wanted a Y.It was a X, not a Y.It was more X than YHowever silly it sounds, think of a context in which it could be used.
3 Structure of talk: Introduction – constructed opposites Conventional oppositionConstructed opposites – examples and triggersTextual meaning
4 1. Introduction Constructed opposites: Your examples.... It’s a cowpat, not a roundabout!She wanted a diary, he wanted a pond.
5 2. Conventional opposition Lexical semantics – sense relationsComplementary – mutually exclusive:alive/dead; right/wrong; man/womanConverse – mutually dependent:borrow/lend; husband/wife; above/belowGradable – range between extremes:hot/cold; tall/short; beautiful/uglyReversive – two directions in a process:raise/lower; break/mend
6 2. Conventional opposition Complementary – mutually exclusive: alive/dead; right/wrong; man/woman Logical relationship – you can only be one or the other: She is not alive = she is dead. You are not wrong = you are right. It was a man = it was not a woman.
7 2. Conventional opposition Converse – mutually dependent: borrow/lend; husband/wife; above/below Logical relationship where both or neither must exist: If there is a husband, there must be a wife. If someone is borrowing, someone is lending. If something is above, there is something below.
8 2. Conventional opposition Gradable – range between extremes:hot/cold; tall/short; beautiful/uglyAlthough often treated as complementaries (you are not beautiful = you are ugly), in fact there are many levels between and the test is to see if you can ‘intensify’ using very or quite to show how much is relevant:She is very tall / not so tall / rather short.This room is terribly hot / rather cold.
9 2. Semantic oppositionReversive – two directions in a process: raise/lower; break/mend These opposites reverse the direction of a process, though of course you cannot always do so in practice! There is no obvious ‘test’: First he raised the flag and then he lowered it. Can you mend the vase I have broken?
11 3. Constructed opposites - Philip Larkin The North Ship (Faber 1943):Is it for now or for always,The world hangs on a stalk?Is it a trick or a trysting-place,The woods we have found to walk?
12 3. Constructed opposites - Philip Larkin The North Ship (Faber 1943):Is it for now or for always,The world hangs on a stalk?Is it a trick or a trysting-place,The woods we have found to walk?
13 3. Constructed opposites - Philip Larkin Is it a mirage or miracle, Your lips that lift at mine: And the suns like a juggler's juggling-balls, Are they a sham or a sign? Shine out, my sudden angel, Break fear with breast and brow, I take you now and for always, For always is always now.
14 3. Constructed opposites - Philip Larkin now or always trick or trysting-place mirage or miracle, sham or sign now and for always, for always is always now.
15 Opposition: examplesUntil Wednesday I couldn’t decide whether Russell Brand was a fatuous buffoon or a misunderstood genius.by Simon Kelner, The IndependentThis begins to set up a paradigm, generalised as good versus bad versions of female identity (according to this male writer) which contrasts experiencing life with eco-terrorism and likens the former to shaving whilst the latter is equivalent to (presumably) hairy women as preferred by the abnormal male!
16 What’s going on here? Parallel structures in two noun phrases: a fatuous buffoonora misunderstood geniusResult is to set up two sets of oppositions:fatuous vs misunderstoodbuffoon vs. genius
17 4. Constructed opposites – Conservative Party LABOUR SAYS HE’S BLACK.TORIES SAY HE’S BRITISH.X says he’s YX = Labour vs. Tories (conventional opposites in Britain)Y thus expected to be oppositeThis produces textual opposite:BLACK BRITISH
18 4. Constructed opposites – triggers I started the development of a list of opposition ‘triggers’:Negation (not X but Y)The politicians that the public likes best are not the aloof ones but the human ones.Parallel structuresWe took coffee, in industrial quantities, Mr Blair, as usual, took nothing for granted.Coordination (and, but, or)a struggle (…) between politicians as soap powder and parties as vehicles for informed debate
19 4. Constructed opposites – Big Bang Theory Big Bang Theory (U.S. sitcom):A bit likebut with nerdy scientists…I’m a physicist, not a hippy:
20 4. Constructed opposites – Big Bang Theory I’m a physicist, not a hippy:Trigger: negation (X, not Y)Opposition type – complementaryUnderlying conventional opposition – rational vs. emotionalEvaluative intention: good vs. badHumour: the value system of the nerdy… from the outside!
21 Textual construction of the female body Nor am I the kind of guy who only goes for earthy types (you know, girls who prefer eco-terrorism to experiencing life and refuse to, like, shave and stuff).(from Jeffries 2007:113-4)
22 Doorsteps Cutting bread brings her hands back to me - the left, with its thick wedding ring,steadying the loaf. Small plump handsbefore age shirred and speckled them.
23 Doorsteps Cutting bread brings her hands back to me - the left, with its thick wedding ring,steadying the loaf. Small plump handsbefore age shirred and speckled them.
27 DoorstepsBread: Colour – Always white, coburg shape stoneground wholemeal Spread – already softened butter butter’s counterfeit Presentation – herringboned across a doylied plate falling forward into the crumbs
28 Song of the Non-existent This is the hour between dog and wolf the sky becomes lighter and darker at the same time something adrift and homeless Is caught and pronounces itself a nightingale your sudden reluctance to remember How hard it was, and how beautiful, to live.
29 Textual meaning A coherent set of textual meaning functions: Naming and DescribingRepresenting Actions/Events/StatesEquating and ContrastingExemplifying and EnumeratingPrioritisingImplying and AssumingNegatingHypothesisingPresenting others’ speech and thoughtsRepresenting time, space and society