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Lecture 1. Literary Text Analysis in Modern Literary Theory

20. Instructions to simulated patient – joint pains

You are Mr Horton, a married man in your early 40s. For the last six months some of your joints have been painful. Your general practitioner (GP) has sent you to see a rheumatologist.

The first time you had trouble was about six months ago when you returned from hospital after an operation to repair a hernia in your groin. That was around 48 hours after the operation. Your right big toe became excruciatingly painful and swollen. It was so bad you could not put any weight on it for two days. Your GP gave you some anti-inflammatory tablets and these helped. The skin around the foot was bright red for three or four days. Gradually the symptoms subsided and after about a week you were able to limp back to your job as a computer technician.

The toe was a lot better for some weeks. However, about three months ago the a similar thing happened suddenly to your left knee - intense pain and swelling, though there was no skin colour change this time. The pain subsided again with the help of anti-inflammatory tablets after a couple of weeks. It has remained slightly swollen and stiff.

Recently the toe pain has returned, though it is not swollen like before. The stiffness in both toe and knee joints appears to be worse first thing in the morning, and eases by the time you get to work.

You are married with two young children. You have not had extra-marital sexual intercourse. You work irregular hours with frequent night shifts. On weekdays you tend to drink three or four pints of beer with colleagues after work. At weekends you generally drink a couple of bottles of wine at mealtimes with your wife. You are generally fit and well and do not take any regular medications


Lecture 1. Literary Text Analysis in Modern Literary Theory

Points for discussion:

1. The subject matter of literary text analysis

2. The methodological basis for literary text analysis

3. Categories of the literary text

4. Meaning of the literary text

Terry Eagleton / Russian formalists, (Viktor Shklovsky, Roman Jakobson, Osip Brik, Yury Tynyanov, Boris Eichenbaum and Boris Tomashevsky): Literary text is created by a peculiar use of language, a language that evokes rich imagery. Literary language is ordinary language “deformed” in various ways: “ Under the pressure of literary devices, ordinary language is intensified, condensed, twisted, drawn out and turned on its head.”

The subject matter of literary text analysis is the text artistic language and text aesthetic properties generally known as: literariness, poeticity, expressiveness and fictionality.

Literariness is a set of linguistic aesthetic properties and characteristics of a text which presuppose a recognizable social reality and as such can be considered in terms of a conventionalised cultural tradition (R. Jakobson, 1921).

The term poeticity implies that words and their composition, their meaning, their external and inner form acquire a weight and value of their own instead of referring indifferently to reality.

Expressiveness adds an emotional edge to the logical neutrality of the linguistic expression. Literary expressiveness is achieved by a variety of verbal procedures from the purely acoustically meaningful like alliteration to the broadest of textual constructions, such as the ironic effect of discourses produced.

In terms of fictionality a work of literature can be defined as a verbal text modelled upon the real physical and social world to which meanings in the text are related.

Wolfgang Iser:

A literary work has two poles: the aesthetic and the artistic. The artistic pole is the author's text, and the aesthetic is the realisation accomplished by the reader. The text has virtual character that cannot be reduced to the reality of text or to the subjectivity of the reader, and it derives its dynamism from that virtuality.

The Methodological Basis for Literary Text Analysis

Literary theory, or poetics, describes the principles of literature, its genres, techniques and functions.

Literary history views literature as part of historical processes.

Literary criticism studies and analyses works and their authors, often from specific theoretical approaches such as Marxist or feminist.

Approaches to literary text analysis

Text-oriented approach is primarily concerned with questions of language and style, and the formal structure of literary works.

Author-oriented approach tries to establish connections between the work of art and the biography of its creator.

Reader-oriented approach focuses on the reception of texts and the texts’ general impact on their audiences.

Context-oriented approach tries to place literary texts against the background of historical, social, or political developments at the same time attempting to classify texts according to genres as well as historical periods.

Meyer H. Abrams - Traditional perspectives of literary text analysis:

1.mimetic: interested in the world that the text reveals;

2. pragmatic: focused on the text’s effect upon the reader;

3. expressive: concerned with the origin of the text;

4. objective: considering the quality of the text itself.

Literary text categories:

1. category of segmentation manifests itself through the literary text division into parts, chapters, paragraphs that are characterized by formal and compositional autonomy;

2. category of connectedness is realized through cohesion (formal connectedness) and coherence (content connectedness);

3. category of prospection is associated with plot development which can be prospective or cataphoric (looking towards the future; realized by means of flash-forwards);

4. category of retrospection is associated with plot development which can be retrospective or anaphoric (looking towards the past) realized by means of flashbacks;

5. category of anthropocentricity is reflected through the subordination of the text to the task of person characterization;

6. category of local-temporal reference is expressed through the system of tenses and lexical time markers as well as place descriptions;

7. category of conceptuality accounts for the embodiment of social, moral, aesthetic ideas of a literary work which constitute its concept;

8. category of informativity is responsible for information stratification into: factual, conceptual and implicit (or subtext);

9. category of systemic character is attributed to the literary text because its macro- and microelements and functions integrate in a closed system that serves a specific purpose;

10. category of integrity and completeness differentiates a text from a non-text;

11. category of modality is the result of the author’s subjective interpretation of reality;

12. category of pragmatic orientation consists in stimulating the reader’s feedback – intellectual and emotional reactions.

Meaning of the literary text is:

· intended by the author;

· created by and contained in the text itself;

· created by the reader.

Date: 2015-01-02; view: 2264

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