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Literary Terms Study Guide AP English Literature & Composition

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1 Literary Terms Study Guide AP English Literature & Composition
Definitions from NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms by Morner & Rausch

2 Literary Terms Diction
Word choice. There are two basic standards-not mutually exclusive-by which a speaker’s or writer’s diction is usually judged: clarity and appropriateness. Clear diction is both precise and concrete, including a high proportion (approximately one out of every six words) of strong verbs and verbals. Appropriate diction is diction at a level- formal, informal, colloquial, slang – suitable to the occasion.

3 Literary Terms Syntax The arrangement and grammatical relation of words, phrases, and clauses in sentences; the ordering of words into phrases, clauses, and sentences. In this sense, syntax is an important element of an author’s STYLE.

4 Literary Terms Style A writer’s characteristic way of saying things. Style includes arrangement of ideas, word choice, imagery, sentence structure and variety, rhythm, repetition, coherence, emphasis, unity and tone. Style should be appropriate to both the subject matter and the writing occasion or audience. Jonathan Swift said, “proper words in proper places.”

5 Literary Terms Imagery
The making of pictures in words, or the pictoral quality of a liteary work achieved through a collection of images. Often synonymous with Figurative Language. Imagery appeals to the senses of taste, smell, hearing, and touch, and to internal feelings, as well as a sense of sight. It evokes a complex of emotional suggestions and communicates MOOD, TONE, and meaning. It can be both figurative and literal.

6 Literary Terms Mood The prevailing emotional attitude in a literary work or in part of a work, for example, regret, hopefulness, bitterness. Mood is often used interchangeably with TONE, although the attempt has been made to define MOOD as the author’s attitude toward the subject or theme and TONE as the author’s attitude toward the reader.

7 Literary Terms TONE The reflection in a work of the author’s attitude toward his or her SUBJECT, CHARACTERS, and readers. Tone in writing is comparable to tone of voice in speech and may be described as brusque, friendly, imperious, insinuating, teasing etc.

Language that contains figures of speech, such as metaphor, simile, personification, synecdoche, metonymy, and hyperbole, expressions that make comparisons or associations meant to be interpreted imaginatively rather than literally.

9 Literary Terms Symbolism
The conscious and artful use of symbols, objects, actions, or characters meant to be taken both literally and as representative of some higher, more complex or abstract significance that lies beyond ordinary meaning.

10 Literary Terms Motif A recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object, or situation that appears in various works or throughout the same work. (Leitmotif) refers to any repetition that tends to unify the work by bringing to mind its earlier occurrences and the impressions that surround them.

11 Anaphora A rhetorical figure involving the exact repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of successive lines or sentences. Anaphora is a type of parallelism.

12 Parallelism A rhetorical figure used in written and oral compositions since ancient times to accentuate or emphasize ideas or images by using grammatically similar constructions. Words, phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, and even larger structural units may be consciously organized into parallel constructions, thereby creating a sense of balance that can be meaningful and revealing, as when two antithetical ideas of comparable importance are juxtaposed. By using parallelism, authors or speakers implicitly invite their readers or audiences to compare and contrast the parallel elements.

13 Refrain A line or lines that recur(s) throughout a poem or the lyrics of a song. The refrain may vary slightly but is generally exactly the same. It usually occurs at the end of a stanza or section but need not do so. When a refrain is intended to be repeated or sung by a group of people it is called a chorus.

14 Incremental Repetition
In poetry, the repetition of a previous line or lines, with a slight variation that adds to or advances the story by increments, or regular small additions; a device characteristic of the ballad.




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