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What is it?
Defamiliarization is the artistic technique of forcing the audience to see common things in an unfamiliar or strange way, in order to enhance perception of the familiar. According to Viktor Shklovsky, a Russian writer who coined the term ‘Defamiliarization’, “The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects, unfamiliar‟, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important.”

Defamiliarization vs. Habitualization:
Defamiliarization is pitched against the concept of Habitualization. Habitualization occurs when regular, frequent, routine interaction with something (or someone) tends to affect the way we respond to this thing (or person) a matter of habit, something we largely aren’t aware of any more because we have come to accept that we simply don’t have to pay it any substantial attention. Defamiliarization compels us to look with fresh eyes, to hear with fresh ears, to think with fresh thoughts, to feel with fresh feelings–i.e., to stop the process of Habitualization and force us actually to see, to hear, to think about, and to feel in relation to something (or someone) rather than simply move right past it. Defamiliarization forces an intense degree of alertness, and even seeks, beyond this, to promote a sense of wonder.

The primary aim of Defamiarization is to set the mind in a state of radical unpreparedness, to cultivate the willing suspension of disbelief. Conventionality of our perceptions is put into question, we see the world afresh. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift is at times considered a founding text of Defamiliarization where the Lilliputs and the Brobdingnag are the imaginative rearrangements we might see if...
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