Concepts of Decoding Stylistics

Topics: Short story Pages: 79 (30644 words) Published: February 5, 2013
This book is based on the main principles and concepts of Decoding Stylistics. The term decoding stylistics (suggested by M.Riffaterre) stands for a trend in stylistics, a theory evolved by professor Irina Vladimirovna Arnold and developed by her numerous disciples (including the authors of the present book). As developed in this country Decoding Stylistics unites and applies the concepts and achievements of linguistics, literary criticism, text theory, poetics, hermeneutics to text analysis and text interpretation and as the term suggests it focuses on the receiving end, on decoding and the addressee's response. The aim is to help the reader towards better comprehension and enjoying literature, to develop his gift of responsiveness. Reading must be effective in forming the student's personality, it must provide material for improving his linguistic skills, his knowledge of American and English culture. This approach to text interpretation stems from the works of Russian linguists at the beginning of the XXth century L.V.Scherba (with his "explication du texte"), V.V.Vinogradov, M.M.Bakhtin, B.A.Larin. The core of reader-oriented decoding stylistics is presented by special types of contextual organization known as foregrounding. Some concepts and the mechanism of foregrounding were first foreseen and pointed at by the Russian formalists Y.Tynyanov, B.Tomashevsky, R.Jakobson, V.Schklovsky, etc.. The latter introduced the notion which he called "ostranenye", i.e. achieving a fresh awareness of life as reflected in the text, by the introduction of a novel form. The concept was later defined as "actualisace" or deautomatization by Mukarsovsky of the Prague School. Following the Czech scholars whom he translated P.Garvin wrote abour foregrounding as opposed to automatization. Modern American scholars employ the terms "dehabitualization", "defamiliarization" in an attempt to render Schklovsky's "ostranenye". Under the general heading of foregrounding the following phenomena may be grouped: repetition, coupling, convergence, contrast, strong (salient) position, intertextual connections, defeated expectancy effect and a few others. Most of them have been separately noted and described by various scholars as independent phenomena. These means are summarized in Decoding Stylistics because they have much in common: taken together, they form the missing link between the whole text and its minor parts, and help to sharpen the response of the reader to ideas, images and emotions reflected in a work of literature. They verify the reader's interpretation of the text and help to grasp what it means because: 1) foregrounding establishes the hierarchy of meanings and themes, bringing some to the fore and shifting others to the background; 2) foregrounding provides the necessary cohesion between the elements on all levels and also between the parts of the text; 3) foregrounding helps to keep in mind distant contextual ties in the text and enhances the emotional response of the reader. Foregrounding may justly be called the core of reader-centered stylistics because it provides a theory of analysis with the help of which a reader develops the habit necessary for active and independent reading, and is safeguarded against jumping the limits of permissible variation.

The position of an element in the text is of importance in bringing logic or the beauty of what is said to the reader's attention. The elements may be made more prominent by the fact that they stand out most effectively in the title, in the first lines, or in the closure of the text. The great informational value of these parts is determined by psychological factors. The title plays an important part in providing a clue to the meaning of the whole, being a starting point of a chain of expectations that tune the reader's mind to what he perceives. The title may name the main characters, state their social roles,...
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