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Its time for part 1

Literary Conventions
Once upon a time,
Reading from left to right
balloons in a graphic novel
Social Conventions
Prior to WWII, in North America, pink
clothes were thought to be especially
appropriate for boys, as pink was
thought a stronger color than blue.
Shaking hands upon first seeing
Electronic Conventions
Abbreviations, acronyms
If you open a book at random in a bookstore, how do you know youre
looking at what is probably called a poem?
What does it mean when youre at the theatre and the curtains open, the
lights dim or when the audience applauds?
When you open a novel, do you expect it to contain a single continuous
piece of writing?
In a graphic novel, what are those balloons around the characters?

Meter Sentences Aside
Stanza Paragraph Exit
Imagery Omniscience Monologue
Alliteration Narrator Stage Directions
Enjambment Plot Protagonist
Iambic Pentameter Epilogue Foil
According to Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms, A literary genre is a
recognizable and established category of written work employing such
common conventions as will prevent reader or audiences from mistaking it
from another kind.

So if something is printed in acts and scenes, for example, you will most likely
be encountering a play. However, in the expanded genre world in which we
live, you cant always count on that.

Generally, literary genres are split into the following:

Prose (or narrative)
Poetry (or lyric)
Drama (or plays)

And, of course, there are subcategories as well like sonnet, ballad, short story,
non-fiction, science-fiction, elegy, editorial, graphic novel, etc.
SO WHAT??? Great question!

Hans Robert Jauss notion is that a horizon of expectation on the part of the
reader is based, among other aspects, on what the reader expects a genre to do
or deliver. His work in reader reception theory foregrounds the reader as the one
who, in a sense, completes the written work by reading it. Therefore, if you have
an idea, for example, of what a short story usually looks like, your reading will be
affected by that experience and that expectation will enter into your response to
the story as a good or bad one, as something new and interesting, or so familiar as
to lack interest or be difficult to understand (148).
The World of literature course reduces
the complexity of genres for you
Macbeth by A Moment in
William Troy by Wistawa
Shakespeare Szymborska

Drama Poetry

The Novel Prose

and Other
Short Than
Story Fiction
To Kill A Autobiographies
Mockingbird by Travel narratives
Harper Lee Essays
The Metamorphosis
by Kafka
Lets look at poetry, shall we?
(Yes, we shall!)
Metrical Verse
When I have fears that I may cease to be Can you hear the alternation of heavy and light
emphasis (stress) here in John Keats poem When I
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain Have Fears? Here we have metrical verse...or, poetry.

Free Verse
Behold the silvery river; in it the splashing horses loitering stop to drink,
Behold the brown-faced men, each group, each person a picture, the negligent rest on saddles
You will note that here it is not possible to hear that regular alternation of stress and unstress, or heavy and light emphasis.
The poet has, in a sense, freed himself of the regularity of metrical verse. You might, however, notice that Walt Whitmans
poem Calvary Crossing a Ford has some rhythm to the lines by other means.

The car was going a wild forty-five miles an hour across the open and as Macomber watched, the buffalo got bigger and bigger
until he could see the gray, hairless, scabby look of one huge bull and how his neck was a part of his shoulders and the shiny
black of his horns as he galloped a little behind the others that were strung out in that steady plunging gait

You would almost certainly recognize this not as poetry but as what is probably part of a story, perhaps a novel or even part
of an essay. However, you might also be quick to notice that some rhythm is present here and its useful to think about what
causes this.
language selected and compressed for maximum

language that consciously uses rhythmic

effects such as regular stress and unstress, or
repetition of some kind

language that is strikingly arranged, as in lines

on the page or in some format that differentiates
it from the prose of expository or fictional writing
Now, lets look at drama

Drama almost always includes
words in some formprose or
Action embodied in performance
A receiveran audience, a viewer,
or sometimes a reader or listener
Kinds of drama/plays

form helps provide meaning

In your reading, definitions of the form can provide a frame within which you will consider
and explore the individual play, but no work of art is usefully reduced to its class or
definition. With a play, in its dual nature as both words on a page and its performance,
there are even more variables to take into account in your reflections and writing (157).
And, lets not forget

Conventions are also connected to particular historical

periods. Sophocles had different options than did
Shakespeare or Miller, right? Right.
Conventions associated with the words
written and spoken

Dialogue includes all the words from the play designed
to be spoken by actors, comprising the bulk of the script

Monologue, soliloquy and aside

Verbal irony is a frequent feature of plays. It is

sometimes referred to as double entendre
Conventions associated with
character portrayal

Protagonist, antagonist, anti-hero
Stock characters (fool, villain, confidante)
Flashbacks (analepsis) and flash forwards (prolepsis)
Playwrights often help to build impressions of characters by
deliberately constructed entrances and exits. Delaying the
entrance of a main character can help to build suspense; abrupt
exits can convey a certain temperamental aspect of a character
Gestures and repetitive actions are also used to delineate
characters and create expectations about them
The substitution of actions and gestures for words through
mime or pantomime is a technique quite opposite of words: the
absence of words to convey meaning
Conventions associated with the
action or plot of the play

Exposition, rising action, climax, falling action,
denouement (resolution)
Divisions of act and scene (whether explicitly identified
or not) are carefully decided by the playwright to deliver
the action with an appropriate conceptual and emotional
Prologue or epilogue (often a speech by one voice)
Dramatic irony, comic relief, deus ex machina
Some conventions related to
staging and performance

The set of the play is the arrangement of the stage to represent the
setting of the action; it can include a backdrop as well as props
Lighting, sound and music are often important atmospheric
elements of plays
Stage business refers to actions that are incidental to the immediate
action, such as an actor playing with some article of clothing or the
use of other propssuch actions can be used to develop a character
or suggest some concern that is an alternative to the focus of the
Freeze frame (the action is stopped, the actors freeze and meaning
is conveyed through this moment of silence and stasis)
Fourth wall (the curtain functions as a fourth wall which, when
opened, allows the audience to view the set and the actors; in the
absence of a curtain, there is still an imagined fourth wall
between the stage and the audience
Lets not forget the novel and
short story!

Besides, this power point is tons of
fun, right? RIGHT
Story and plot ( vexed terms )

story plot
A story can be told by even In the plot version, we have
a young child, often a slightly better sense of the
characterized by a series of character of the child and
ands as in: the situation of her story:

Because no one else was

awake, I went into the
I went into the garden and I garden and now my finder
saw this animal and I got is bleeding because when I
down on the ground to pet it got down to pet this animal,
and it bit me and which I thought was like
one of our kittens, it bit me
and made my finger bleed.
Lets define some terms

For H. Porter Abbott, story is defined as a sequence of
events involving entities.
You will notice he uses the word entities because, as you know, not all who act in
stories are human beings.
Sequence is a term that can include either acts or happenings. There might be a
sequence in a story, but you will have no guarantee that it will appear in the linear
way we like to think things happen.
Stories include acts (which we could define as something done by entity) and
happenings (things experienced by some entity)

Abbotts defines narrative as the representation of a story.

Why does he add in representation? Well, particularly here where we are talking
about novels and short stories, someone has chosen to represent a story in a particular
way, long or short, involving many characters or few, and all the other features that
distinguish the representation of a story. Gossip and rumor, which we all probably
engage in, are the best evidence of how many ways a story can be represented.

The first-person narrator: s/he is the center, the focus of the story, and we have to rely
on her/his perceptions. S/he might not be worthy of our trust, but s/he is all we have.

One Out of Many

I am a simple man who decided to act and see for himself, and it is as though I have had several
lives. Sometimes I walk to the circle with the fountain. I see the dancers but they are separated
from me as by glass. Once when there were rumors of new burnings, someone scrawled in white
paint on the pavement outside my house: Soul Brother: I understand the words; but I feel brother
to what or to whom? I was once part of the flow, never thinking of myself as a presence. Then I
looked in the mirror and decided to be free. All that my freedom has brought me is the
knowledge that I have a face and I have a body, that I must feed this body and clothe this body for
a certain number of years. Then it will be over.
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

With this excerpt, we are certainly aware of an entity, as well as the end of a sequence of
events (which includes both acts and happenings), the ingredients Abbott defines as a
narrative. We are reading the representation of a [mans] story (202).
Narration cont.

Sometimes a narrative can be told by we (a first-person plural narrator),
which is becoming a little more popular in the 21st century.
Below, we have the story of a feud between a father and a son. The events are
narrated by a pair of men in the town who watch the events being played out,
but never give much detail about themselves, the observers.

Baked Mud
The next day the yellow station wagon had disappeared. The only things left were
the open door of the motel, the circle of chinaberry trees, the dry January sun. And
in between Sebastiens dark stories about other floods and droughts, we also had
our silence, our solitude and our fear.
Juan Jose Saer

It might be interesting to think through what differences there are in using I

or we to deliver the story to the reader
Narration cont.

It is probably better to work with the label of third-person narration, given how
many varieties of all-knowingness (or not) can exist in novels and short stories.
As Abbott remarks, All narration is riddled with blind spots, so we will need to
recognize that whoever tells the story is a voice constructed in a certain way by the
Some thinkers about fiction are absolutely sure we should never trust a first-
person narrator. Others are far from sure that is so certain: James Wood takes the
position that first-person narration is generally more reliable than unreliable; and
third-person omniscient narration is generally more partial than omniscient.

You will need to have the know-how to answer the following questions:
Whos telling the story?
How far do I trust the narrator?
How much does trust matter to my reading?
Narration (what, you were expecting something else?)
We are all familiar with the ways through which narrators let the reader know what a
character is thinking or feeling, like describing or using dialogue.
Another aspect of third-person narration, which provides some usually subtle effects, is
called free indirect style. This is a subtle way to operate with both the narrators voice
and a characters voice in a play in an intermingled and simultaneous way. Free-indirect
style has been described by Abbott as a kind of ventriloquism. Here we will hear the
narrator directly quoting what his character is thinking. Free of quotation marks, or the
usual she thought or even the dashes sometimes used to indicate alternating speakers, the
author simply allows the characters voice momentarily to take over the narrative voice.
Miss Brill
Dear little thing! It was nice to feel it again. She had taken it out of its box that afternoon, shaken
out the moth-powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes.
What has been happening to me? said the sad little eyes. Oh, how sweet it was to see them snap
at her again from the red eiderdown!....But the nose, which was of some black composition, wasnt
at all firm. It must have had a knock, somehow. Never minda little dab of black sealing-wax
when the time camewhen it was absolutely necessaryLittle rogue! Yes, she really felt like that
about it. Little rogue biting its tail just by her left ear. She could have taken it off and laid it on her
lap and stroked it.
Katherine Mansfield
Miss Brill has gone out to sit in the park and she recalls assembling her outfit. We hear
her talking about her fox collar, something which, in the time of the story, would have
been a decorative accessory. Notice, however, the melding of the third person she with
a representation of her own thoughts.

James Wood calls free indirect style a way of inhabiting omniscience and
partiality at the same time. You may be thinking that this style of narration
resembles both interior monologue and stream of consciousness, two other
features of narrative, BUT

Monologue is a single speech rather than a representation of intermittent

reflections, feelings and sense-perceptions.

The aim of stream of consciousness is to represent on the page of the narrative

the flow of the mind. Such an attempt often overrides the conventions of
spelling, punctuation and syntax as it tries to present sense-perceptions, feelings,
as well as thoughts as they occur in the human consciousness.

Look at the next example of free indirect style. We will see Simon acting and
thinking, but we also hear exactly (this is a fictional construct after all) what
he is thinking and the way he is thinking about it.
Narration ( ?)
you thought, perhaps, it might be something different

The Levant Trilogy

Simon, sun-parched, sweat soaked, unshaven, sand in hair and eyes, needed a bath though he
was too deep in grief to feel the want of anything. He was taken upstairs to a small room with a
bathroom so narrow, the bath fitted into it like a foot into a shoe. Filling the bath, he lay
comatose in luke-warm water until he heard the hotel waking up.
He could see through his bedroom window that the dusty saffron colour of the afternoon had
deepened into the ochre of early evening. Time had extended itself in his desolation, yet it was
still the day on which Hugo had died. At this pace, how was he to endure the rest of his life?
How, as a mere beginning, was he to get through the week ahead?
He looked at himself in his shaving mirror, expecting to see himself ravaged by his emotion but
the face that looked back at him was still a very young face, burnt by the sun, a little dried by the
desert wind, but untouched by the sorrow of that day.
He was twenty years of age, Hugo had been his senior by a year and they were as alike as twins.
Imagining Hugos body disintegrating in the sand, he felt a spasm of raging indignation against
this early death, and then he thought of those who must suffer with him: his parents, his
relatives and the girl Edwina whom he thought of as Hugos girl. He had seen Edwina when he
first came to Cairo and he realized, with a slight lift of spirit, that he now had good reason to see
her again.
Olivia Manning
Characters and characterization (whew!)
When writing about characters for this IB literature course you will be especially asked to focus on two aspects:
*the construction of the characters by the writerthe art of characterization and all the techniques by which a
character comes to life on the page.
*the way that character constructs are operating in the larger picturethe novel or short story.

Sometimes, the first introduction of a character will be with a description offering some physical
details. The physical details often reflect psychological details as well. Note how Dickens mixes
the literal and the metaphorical possibilities of language to create a vivid presence. You will also
notice that along with the physical and emotional details, actions are incorporated into Cathers
Hard Times
He was a rich man: banker, merchant, manufacturer, and what not. A big, loud man,
with a stare, and a metallic laugh. A man made out of coarse materialA man with a
great puffed head and forehead, swelled veins in his temples, and such strained skin to
his face that it seemed to hold his eyes open, and lift his eyebrows up.
Charles Dickens
A Lost Lady
A well-grown boy of eighteen or nineteen, dressed in a shabby corduroy hunting suit,
with a gun and a gamebag, had climbed from the marshhe walked with a rude,
arrogant stride, kicking at the twigs, and carried himself with unnatural erectness, as if
he had a steel rod down his back.
Willa Cather

A more recent example includes some physical description in
conjunction with a minute gesture. Careful selection and
combination by Richard Powers work here to deliver a character
who is highly individualized. Notice, too, how important the
convention of names is to enrich the portrayal of character.
Plowing in the Dark
Spiegel assigned her a prodigy to call her own. A boy called JackdawJack Acquerelli. Jackdaw
came fresh from Californias largest computer science factory, although he looked barely old
enough to mail in his own software registration forms. He was just her height, one of the reasons
hed taken up with computers in the first place. He might have been attractive, except for the
steady diet of Doritos and the inability to abide much human contact without flinching. Adie
took to him at once, if only for mocking his last name. Each time she met him she unbuttoned the
top button of his habitual plaid flannel shirt, until she trained him to do so, all by himself.
Richard Powers
Looking closely at this extract, note as many conventions for
delivering characterization as possible. What do you infer about
Jack from what is written here?
Were still on characterization!

Very often, we learn about characters through what they say and through what
others say about them (dialogue).
Conventional phrases such as said Mr. Gradgrind, or retorted Master
Kidderston or even a set up like The Captain coughed and looked abashed. I was
intending to omit that tonight, are all recognizable as dialogue, and we can easily
figure out who is speaking and to whom. In the 20th century, however, the
conventions of presenting dialogue have changed, and it is sometimes more
difficult to figure this out.
Another interesting convention often used by writers to provide information about
characters is by connecting them to lists such as lists of books, or other items they
possess, such as clothing, collections of art, etc. Below is an example.
The Unfinished Game
An agitated young woman, with shocking red lips and excess baggage (two suitcases,
three handbags, two plastic bags stuffed with odds and ends) kicks my foot and
thrusts herself forward.
Goli Taraghi
Conventions of time,
space and structure

The final set of conventions we are going to look at has to do with
*the way that time is involved in narratives and
*the place or space where the sequence of events takes place.
As novelists, we can get the man to the plane in two sentences or in forty. The
time in the novel might be years or a day.
There are generally two conventional ways in which writers present the passage
of time: either in chronological order (a linear fashion) or in a disrupted or
disjointed order. How might this affect the message of the story? Why might an
author choose one way instead of the other?
Within these timelines, very often a secondary story (or several) will be included.
Subplots are a convention we all recognize. If you look at a variety of definitions
of this feature of plots, you will discover such words to describe their function as
contribute interest, add complexity, give impetus to action, add zest and
relief (Holman 1999); mirror, enhance, or intensify (Quinn 1999) and parallel
and contrast the main plot (Baldrick 1990).
Conventions of time,
space and structure
Later novels, starting in the early 20th century, began to disrupt or disjoint the
narrative sequence. Events yet to come would also be included by a convention
known as prolepsis or flash forwards and, at other moments, characters or the
narrator would include flashbacks (or analepsis) to return to events or happenings
that precede the narrative.
Naturally, these disruptions would have an effect on another conventionpace, or
the speed with which events unfold. In turn, suspense ( a very important element
for readers) is affected both by chronology or disruption, as well as the leaping
forward and looking back.
Both the time in which the novel or short story is set and the place or places form
the context for events and affect our perception of both people and events. Writers
can either foreground the setting, even to the point of making a place begin to seem
like another character, or they can make it so vague that we are barely aware of it,
or feel the events could be taking place just about anywhere.
Settings can also contribute significantly to the mood or atmosphere of narratives.
Dark and shadowy, for example, work well for mystery, the unexpected and the
violent; open spaces can be intimidating or liberating. In all cases, it is wise for you
as a reader to take account of the physical as well as the cultural aspects of both
time and space in your understanding of works.
How do I
identify a genre
by its
What is a literary
A genre is a
particular style or
type of writing.
Major Genres
Writing that tells about
imaginary people and events

Writing that tells about real
people and events
lines of poetry (verses) are
written in stanzas

may include patterns of rhyme to

capture the readers interest

uses carefully selected words and

phrases to create vivid pictures in the
readers mind
a cast of characters
a narrator who gives
important information
parts called acts or scenes
props to help support action
dialogue that tells what the actors
stage directions in italics
Realistic Fiction
The setting is realistic
The characters speak and act
like real people
The story describes real-life
problems and events
Characters are simpler than real
people - they may be completely
greedy, completely wicked , or
very gentle

Actions are repeated

over and over

Some fables teach a lesson about

what is important in life, such as
fairness, kindness, or cleverness
Folk Tale
Told in many different versions by many
different people
Original storyteller is unknown
Characters are animals that act and
speak like people
Use of the number three
Tall Tale

Extraordinary person - the main character is better

at things than an ordinary person

Exaggeration makes something greater or bigger

than it really could be

Explanation explains how something came to be

Myth / Legend
A kind of fantasy
A very old story
handed down by
word of mouth
Explains something
about nature or
answers questions
about the meaning of
life or what is good
or evil
Fairy Tales
Often begin with
Once upon a time or Include a good
Long, long ago character and a bad
(evil) character
Include magic Involves a
or something problem that
enchanted is solved and
the good
Setting is a people live
forest or a happily ever
castle after
Story about a real
persons life that is
written by another
Can cover a persons
whole life, part of a
persons life, or a single
A true account of a
persons life based on
facts collected by the
Written from the third
person point of view (he
or she)

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