Discourse stylistics - LLAS Centre for Languages, Linguistics and

Lang-Lit Interface
Sussex University, May 2011.
Geoff HALL
[email protected]
1. What is DS?
2. What relevance to the L-L ‘Interface’?
3. How does DS proceed in practice?
4. What might convincing DS look like?
(Tennyson e.g. ‘Charge of Light Brigade’a canonical historical text)
Carter & Simpson 1989
• Fowler 1981, 21:
• “The absence of any necessary and
sufficient linguistic criterion for the ‘literary’
text is well known”
(quoted p. 13)
• ‘Too narrow a focus on linguistic forms
does not release what is essentially of
interest in the study of literary texts’
• (Carter and Simpson 1989: 4)
• ‘The 1990s could well become the decade
in which socio-historical and socio-cultural
stylistic studies are a main preoccupation’
(Carter & Simpson)
Weber 1996: 3
• ‘Meaning and stylistic effect are not fixed and
stable, and cannot be dug out of the text as in an
archaeological approach, but they have to be
seen as a potential which is realized in a (real)
reader’s mind, the product of a dialogic
interaction between author, the author’s context
of production, the text, the reader and the
reader’s context of reception – where context
includes all sorts of sociohistorical, cultural and
intertextual factors.’
Simpson & Hall 2002
• ‘Discourse stylistics views literary texts as
instances of naturally occurring language use in
a social context, where discourse analysis
should reveal as much about the contexts as
about the text.’ (136)
• ‘Discourse stylistics at its best will necessarily be
a thoroughgoing interdisciplinary, even
transdisciplinary, endeavour.’ (136)
• ‘Discourse’ is understood as ‘language in use’
• ‘stylistics’ is the principled and systematic study
of language in use• interpretation and the study of meaning through
close interrogation of the formal features of texts
• recognising that formal features do not have
self-evident meanings but do have contexts of
use and histories of reception
Discourse analysis
• Discourse analysis considers the formal
features of language in use at every level
in pursuit of larger social and cultural
• Literature is an instance of language in
use – ‘social interaction’
Tennyson example ‘Charge of the
Light Brigade’
• formal features, artistry (repetition,
parallelism etc) and their functions
• use of sources to create a poem (after
Ricks and McGann)
• cultural intertextualities and appropriations
– discourses of militarism, masculinity
Formal features
• parallelism, alliteration, assonance, metre,
rhyme etc. create a memorable poem
• use of imperative forms, inversions,
imperfect rhymes, hurried and imperfect
• students need to spend time investigating
formal features that they do not otherwise
notice or refer to except partially and
Use of sources: story into classic
• use of newspaper reports shows consistent
mythologising and creation of literariness incl
‘literary’ diction (‘league’ replaces ‘miles’; Death/
Hell capitalised)
• 607 reduced to 600 for metre; Light Cavalry
Brigade becomes Light brigade
• Nolan/ the captain becomes ‘someone’ had
blundered (officer’s mistake no longer primary
• ‘all the world wondered’ – the French officers
wondered (see McGann)
Kipling 1915
“If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied.”
(Kipling 1915)
• film versions 1912 (silent b/w), 1936 (Errol
Flynn), 1968 colour.
• 1970s ‘English school textbooks.
• Star Trek episode ...
Carter, R. & Simpson, P. (eds.) 1989 Language, Discourse and Literature London: Unwin Hyman.
Fowler, R 1981 Literature as Social Discourse London: Batsford.
Ricks, C. (ed) 1987 Poems of Tennyson in three volumes. Vol. 2. Editor’s Notes to Poem 315. (Charge) Harlow,
McGann, J. J. The Beauty of Inflections. pp. 190-203. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Simpson, P. and Hall, G. 2002 Discourse analysis and stylistics. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 22: 136-49.
New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 136-49
Weber, J.J. 1996 Towards contextualized stylistics: an overview. In J.J. Weber (ed.) The Stylistics Reader. London: