Textual analysis and textual theory
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Textual Analysis and Textual Theory. Session Three Søren Hattesen Balle English Department of Culture and Identity. Agenda. Introduction : the summary assignment for today and next time Introduction : today’s session Presentation : figurative language defamiliarization

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Textual Analysis and Textual Theory

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Textual analysis and textual theory

TextualAnalysis and TextualTheory

Session Three

Søren Hattesen Balle


Department of Culture and Identity



  • Introduction: the summary assignment for today and next time

  • Introduction: today’s session

  • Presentation:

    • figurative language

    • defamiliarization

    • Romanticism, Victorianism, LateModernism

  • Classroomdiscussion:

    • William Wordsworth, ”Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802” (1802/1807); Thomas Hardy, ”The DarklingThrush” (1900, 1901); Craig Raine, ”A MartianSends a Postcard Home” (1979)

    • The use of figurative language and the role and function of defamiliarization in the three poems

Poetry figurative language

Poetry: figurative language

  • Summing up on figurative language in poetry:

    • genre-constitutive (vs. genre-specific)

    • poeticlanguage (vs. ’ordinary’ language)

    • figurative language (vs. ’literal’ language) (cf. F. Nietzsche: ”What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms [..]: truthsare illusions aboutwhichone has forgottenthatthis is whattheyare; metaphorswhichareworn out and withoutsensuous power; coinswhich have lost theirpictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins”)

    • essential (vs. historical)

    • figure (vs. imagery)

    • trope/figure of thought (vs. rhetoricalfigure/figure of speech/scheme)

Poetry figurative language1

Poetry: figurative language

  • The function and effect of figurative language in literary and poetictexts:

    • ornamental/decorative, abusive/seductive, (de)constructive/(de)mystifying/(de)familiarizing

    • the inextricable relation betweenfigures, images and meaning in poetictexts

      • cf. imagery ”as a major factor in poeticmeaning, structure, and effect” (Abrams & Harpham)

      • image motifs, image clusters, thematicimagery (cf. ’falling’ and ’death’ in J. Joyce, ”The Dead”)

      • image vs. symbol vs. emblem (cf. W. Blake, ”A PoisonTree” and E. Morgan

    • figures and images as means of making the abstractconcrete (cf. The Petrarchanconceit and W. Shakespeare’sdemythologizing of Petrarchanpoeticimagery)

    • figures and images as means of ’(de)familiarizing’ (V. Shklovsky) our world: re-figuration of the world; to see the worldfigurativelyis to ’seethings’ (cf. Wordsworth, ”Tintern Abbey” and R. Ellison, Invisible Man)

    • The self-reflexivity and critique of figurative language (cf. E. Dickinson, ”A Birdcamedown the Walk” and R. Ellison, Invisible Man): (de)constructive of the illusion of reference+(re)figuring of racist metaphors/synecdoches )

Poetry figurative language2

Poetry: figurative language

  • Types of figurative language

  • (dead) metaphor/(epic) simile (a ’is’ (’like’ or ’as’) b)

  • mixed metaphor

  • metonymy (a ’is associatedwith’ b)

  • synecdoche (a ’is part of’ b)

  • anthropomorphism/prosopopoeia (personification)

  • paranomasia (pun)

  • chiasmus (syntactic inversion)

  • synaesthesia (fusion of different sense impressions)

  • apostrophe (address to an inanimate or non-human entity)

  • anaphora (repetition of word or phrase at the beginning of a sequence of sentences)

  • rhetorical question (a question asked not to request information; the answer is self-evident)

Poetry figurative language3

Poetry: figurative language

  • Romanticism, Victorianism, LateModernism

    • Romanticism: faith in the power of the imagination and figurative language to transform and humanize the outsideworld (Greenblatt, p. 11)

    • Victorianism: belatedness and distance in relation to the Romanticconfidence in the power of the imagination (Greenblatt, p. 996)

    • LateModernism/’theMartianSchool’: the eye/’I’ ”sees the worldwith the freshness of a childor a painteror a visitor from Mars and recordswhat it seeswith an oftenexubererantwit”(Abrams/Greenblatt, p. 1903) → fidelityto experience and the everyday world

Poetry figurative language4

Poetry: figurative language

  • William Wordsworth, ”Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802” (1802/1807); Thomas Hardy, ”The DarklingThrush” (1900, 1901); Craig Raine, ”A MartianSends a Postcard Home” (1979)

    • compare the textual media which the reader is invited to think the three poems are representations of. Does it make any difference to our reading of the poems  that Wordsworth’s poem is meant to be read as a poem, and a sonnet at that, just as Hardy’s poem is, while Raine’s is presented as a postcard from a Martian visiting the earth?

    • compare the speakers of the three poems

    • what creates strangeness in the three poems?

    • compare the figurative and rhetorical devices the poems use as means of defamiliarization

    • compare the effect each poem means to achieve by its use of defamiliarizing strategies

    • can you translate the figurative terms of “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” into literal terms? did you find the work of translation difficult or easy? Depending on your answer, state your reasons why.

    • outline a poetics for each poem

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