Literary Terms and Techniques

Russian Formalism

Russian Formalism, a movement of literary criticism and interpretation, emerged in Russia during the second decade of the twentieth century and remained active until about 1930. Members of what can be loosely referred to as the Formalist school emphasized first… Read More ›

Reception Theory

Reception theory, the approach to literature that concerns itself first and foremost with one or more readers’ actualization of the text, is based on a collective enterprise that has had far-reaching institutional consequences. Hans Robert Jauss, with his University of… Read More ›

Prague Linguistic Circle

Twentieth-century semiotics and structuralism emerged simultaneously from the same source: the postpositivistic paradigm initiated by Ferdinand de Saussure and Russian formalism. The first systematic formulation of semiotic structuralism came from scholars of the Prague Linguistic Circle (PLC), who are now… Read More ›

Relevance Theory

A cognitive theory of pragmatics originally developed in the 1980s by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson. Relevance theory offers a new approach to the study of human communication which is firmly grounded in a general view of human cognitive design…. Read More ›

Speech Act Theory

Speech act theory accounts for an act that a speaker performs when pronouncing an utterance, which thus serves a function in communication. Since speech acts are the tools that allow us to interact in real-life situations, uttering a speech act… Read More ›

Langue and Parole

Referring to two aspects of language examined by Ferdinand de Saussure at the beginning of the twentieth century, langue denotes a system of internalized, shared rules governing a national language’s vocabulary, grammar, and sound system; parole designates actual oral and… Read More ›

Literary Terms and Devices

Aestheticism European literary movement, with its roots in France, that was predominant in the 1890’s. It denied that art needed to have any utilitarian purpose and focused on the slogan “art for art’s sake.” The doctrines of aestheticism were introduced… Read More ›