Stylistics is the study of style in texts. It involves identifying and analyzing the linguistic choices that writers make that serve to make texts meaningful. Originally an outgrowth of the third canon of classical rhetoric (elocutio), and later heavily influenced by movements in twentieth-century linguistics, modern stylistics has grown into a recognizable discipline in its own right, with its own distinct theories and practices.
While stylistics can be used to analyze any type of text, traditionally the discipline has been most concerned with the style of literary texts. As such, stylistics has sometimes been referred to as ‘literary stylistics’ or ‘literary linguistics’. Following in this tradition, this course will focus exclusively on the style of literary texts (poetry, prose and drama).
ACC 220 has strong affinities with other arts and humanities courses, and is a good choice for A&H majors in particular, especially those with an interest in linguistics and/or literature. However, the systematic methods of analysis used in stylistics can be applied to any text; this course will therefore also be useful to any student who wishes to strengthen his or her skills in close/critical reading.
Students in this course will be invited to consider the linguistic choices made by literary writers by reflecting on why certain linguistic strategies may be more effective than others in achieving particular interpretive effects. Attention will also be paid to understanding what we mean when we make judgments about what is or is not ‘effective’, ‘moving’, ‘powerful’, and so forth. Students will be asked to consider all levels of language from the phonetic to the discoursal. Therefore, an interest in language is crucial to this course. Given our focus on literary texts, it should go without saying that an interest in literature is also essential.
Some theoretical issues that will be dealt with will include deviation and foregrounding, sound and rhythm, the debate about a ‘literary language’, conversation and turn-taking strategies in drama, point of view, speech and thought presentation, etc. Students will have frequent opportunities to practice stylistic analysis in class. Students will also present their own stylistic analyses to the class in small groups and individually.
Course outline ACC 220 Spring 2018 Final.pdfCourse outline ACC 220 Spring 2018 Final.pdf