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LESLEY JEFFRIES PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD Opposition in poetry.

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Presentation on theme: "LESLEY JEFFRIES PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD Opposition in poetry."— Presentation transcript:

1 LESLEY JEFFRIES PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD Opposition in poetry

2 Audience participation bit... Write down a noun Collect up another noun from your neighbour Put 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 Y However silly it sounds, think of a context in which it could be used.

3 Structure of talk: 1. Introduction – constructed opposites 2. Conventional opposition 3. Constructed opposites – examples and triggers 4. Textual 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 relations Complementary – mutually exclusive: alive/dead; right/wrong; man/woman Converse – mutually dependent: borrow/lend; husband/wife; above/below Gradable – range between extremes: hot/cold; tall/short; beautiful/ugly Reversive – 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/ugly Although 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 opposition Reversive – 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?

10 2. Conventional opposition is learned

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 oralways trick ortrysting-place mirage ormiracle, sham orsign now and for always, for always is always now.

15 Opposition: examples Until Wednesday I couldn’t decide whether Russell Brand was a fatuous buffoon or a misunderstood genius. by Simon Kelner, The Independent

16 What’s going on here? Parallel structures in two noun phrases: a fatuous buffoon or a misunderstood genius Result is to set up two sets of oppositions: fatuous vs misunderstood buffoon vs. genius

17 4. Constructed opposites – Conservative Party LABOUR SAYS HE’S BLACK. TORIES SAY HE’S BRITISH. X says he’s Y X = Labour vs. Tories (conventional opposites in Britain) Y thus expected to be opposite This 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 structures  We 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 like but with nerdy scientists… I’m a physicist, not a hippy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_det ailpage&v=b5V0QY1d904 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_det ailpage&v=b5V0QY1d904

20 4. Constructed opposites – Big Bang Theory I’m a physicist, not a hippy:  Trigger: negation (X, not Y)  Opposition type – complementary  Underlying conventional opposition – rational vs. emotional  Evaluative intention: good vs. bad  Humour: 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 hands before 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 hands before age shirred and speckled them.

24 Doorsteps Bread: Colour Spread Presentation

25 Doorsteps Bread: Colour – Always white, coburg shape stoneground wholemeal Spread Presentation

26 Doorsteps Bread: Colour – Always white, coburg shape stoneground wholemeal Spread – already softened butter butter’s counterfeit Presentation

27 Doorsteps Bread: 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 Describing  Representing Actions/Events/States  Equating and Contrasting  Exemplifying and Enumerating  Prioritising  Implying and Assuming  Negating  Hypothesising  Presenting others’ speech and thoughts  Representing time, space and society

30 Thanks for listening


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