AP English Literature Flashcards

Topics: ArtSymbolism

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Last updated: May 3, 2019

Abstract
A severe abridgement that summarizes the principle ideas or arguments advanced in a much longer work

Ad Hominem Fallacy
An argument based on the failings of an adversary rather than on the merits of the case

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Aesthetic
The study or philosophy of the beautiful in nature and art.

Allegory
A story in which each aspect of the story has a symbolic meaning outside the tale itself.

Alliteration
Repeating sound at the beginning of several nearby words

Allusion
A casual reference in literature to a person, place, event or another passage of literature often without explicit identification

Ambiguity
The state of having more than one meaning, with resultant uncertainty as to the intended significance of the statement

Anachronism
Assignment of something to a time when it was not in existence

Analogy
Comparison of two things alike in certain aspects

Anapest
Consisting of three syllables with two unaccented followed by one accented

Anaphora
The intentional repetition of beginning clauses in order to create an artistic effect

Anastrophe
Inverted order of words or events as a rhetorical scheme. e.g. “I walked up the door, shut the stairs…

Anastrophe
Inverted order of words or events as a rhetorical scheme. E.g. “I walked up the door, shut the stairs…”

Anecdote
A short narrative

Anecdote
A short entertaining account of some happening

Antagonist
The character against whom the protagonist struggles or contends with

Antecedent
The word or phrase that determines what a pronoun is referring to.

Anthropomorphism
The ascription of human characteristics to nonhuman objects.

The conceptual presentation of some nonhuman entity in a believably human form.

Anticlimax
An arrangement of detail such that the lesser appears at the point where something greater is expected

Antihero
A protagonist who is markedly unheroic: morally weak, cowardly, dishonest, or any number of other unsavory qualities.

Antithesis
The juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases

Antithesis
Opposition or contrast emphasized by parallel structure

Apostrophe
A figure of speech wherein the speaker talks directly to something that is nonhuman.

Appeal to Authority
Citation of information from people recognized for their special knowledge of a subject for the purpose of strengthening an argument

Archaism
Obsolete phrasing, idiom, syntax or spelling

Aside
A few words or a short passage spoken by one character to the audience which is not audible to other characters.

Assonance
Repeating identical or similar vowel sounds in nearby words

Asyndeton
The omission of conjunctions between words, phrases or clauses

Atmosphere
The prevailing tone or mood of a literary work particularly the mood that is established by the setting or landscape

Ballad
A long, narrative poem, usually in meter and rhyme. Typically has a naive folksy quality.

Bathos
Writing strains for grandeur it can’t support and tries too hard to be a tear jerker.

Begging the Question
A fallacy that assumes as true the very thing that one is trying to prove

Bildungsroman
A novel that deals with the development of a young person, usually from adolescence to maturity

Black Humor
The use of the morbid and the absurd for a darkly comic purposes

Blank Verse
Unrhymed but otherwise regular verse, usually iambic pentameter

Bombast
Pretentious, exaggeratedly learned language.

Burlesque
Broad parody, one that takes a style or form and exaggerates it into ridiculousness.

Cacophony
In poetry, using deliberately harsh, awkward sounds.

Cadence
The beat or rhythm of poetry in a general sense.

Caesura
A pause or break in a line of verse

Canon
A standard of judgment; a criterion

Canto
The name for a section division in a long work of poetry.

Caricature
A portrait (verbal or otherwise) that exaggerates a facet of personality.

Catharsis
Drawn from Aristotle’s writings on tragedy.

Refers to the “cleansing” of emotion an audience member experiences during a play

Cause and Effect
Examination of the causes/and or effects of a situation or phenomenon

Chiasmus
A pattern in which the second part is balanced against the first part but with the second part reverse (x-shaped)

Chorus
The song or refrain that a group of singers sings

Claim
A statement or assertion that is open to challenge and that requires support.

Classic
Typical, or an accepted masterpiece.

Classification as a Means of Ordering
Arrangement of objects according to class

Climax
The moment of greatest intensity in a text, or the major turning point in the plot.

Closure
An ending or completion, or something that gives a sense of finality.

Coinage
A new word, usually one invented on the spot.

Colloquialism
An informal expression, or slang term; acceptable in conversation but not usually in formal writing.

Conceit
An extended metaphor, or an elaborate parallel between two seemingly dissimilar objects or ideas.

Conclusion
The end of an argument, that function of which is to summarize or draw together what has come before and/or to draw final inferences from what has already been stated.

Connotation
The association or implied meaning that a word carries along with its literal meaning.

Consequence
An inference or conclusion derived through logic, or the result following from a cause.

Consonance
Repeating identical or similar consonant sounds in nearby words

Continuous Form
The lines of the poem are written without formal groupings

Convention
In writing, a practice or principle (such as spelling or grammar usage) that is accepted as true or correct.

Convincing
The process of making an audience believe or agree with something.

Cosmic Irony
The depiction of fate or the universe as malicious or indifferent to human suffering.

Couplet
A pair of lines that end in rhyme

Dactyl
A poetic foot — heavy, light, light

Dactyl
A poetic foot — stressed, unstressed, unstressed

Damning with Faint Praise
Intentional use of a positive statement that has a negative implication

Decorum
A character’s speech must be styled according to her social station, and in accordance to the situation.

Deduction
A form of reasoning that begins with a generalization, then applies it to a specific case

Denotation
The literal meaning of a word

Dialectic
A form of reasoning that proceeds by juxtaposing contradictory ideas and synthesizing or finding areas of agreement between them

Dialogue
A conversation between two or more speakers; also an exchange of ideas.

Diction
Specific word choice used in a piece of writing, often chosen for effect but also for correctness and clarity.

Didactic
Intended to instruct or to educate.

Digression
To turn or move away from the main subject of discussion or the main argument in a piece of writing.

Direct Characterization
The writer makes direct statements about a character’s personality

Dirge
A song for the dead. Its tone is typically slow, heavy, depressed, and melancholy

Dirge
A song for the dead. Its tone is typically slow, depressed, and melancholy

Discourse
The wider social and intellectual context in which communication takes place. The implication is that the meaning of works depends on their contest, not just their content.

Dissonance
Refers to the grating of incompatible sounds.

Doggerel
Crude, simplistic verse, often in sing-song rhyme, like limericks.

Dramatic Irony
A technique in which the author lets the audience in on a character’s situation while the character remains uniformed.

Dramatic Monologue
When a single speaker in literature says something to a silent audience.

Dystopia
A very unpleasant imaginary world in which ominous tendencies are projected in some disastrous culmination. Opposite of Utopia.

Elegy
A type of poem that meditates on death or mortality in a serious, thoughtful manner.

Elements
Basic techniques of each genre of literature

Ellipsis
A figure of speech in which a word or short phrase is omitted, but easily understood from the context; also the marks (.

..) that indicate the omission of a word of phrase.

Emblem
A concrete object that represents something abstract; unlike a symbol, an emblem has a fixed meaning that does not vary in different contexts

Emphasis
Force or intensity of expression brought to bear on a particular part of text or speech.

End Rhyme
Rhyme in which the last word at the end of each verse is the word that rhymes

End-Stop
A line ending in a full pause, often indicated by punctuation

Enjambment
The continuation of a syntactic unit from one line or couplet of a poem to the next with no pause.

Enthymeme
An informal method of argument in which one of the major premises is implied or assumed rather than stated.

Epic
A very long narrative poem on a serious theme in a dignified style; typically deal with glorious or profound subject matter.

Epigraph
A quotation placed at the beginning of a piece of literature or at the beginning of one of its chapters or scenes to provide the reader with some ideas about the content or meaning to follow

Epiphany
A sudden, powerful, and often spiritual or life changing realization that a character reaches in an otherwise ordinary or everyday moment.

Epistolary
Narrated through letters.

Epitaph
A brief statement to memorialize a deceased person or a thing, time, or event that has ended.

Epithet
A short, poetic nickname- often in the form of an adjective or adjectival phrase- attached to the normal name

Ethos
The overall character, moral makeup, or guiding beliefs of individual, group or institution.

Eulogy
A formal statement of praise.

Euphemism
A word or phrase that takes the place of a harsh, unpleasant, or impolite reality.

Euphemism
A word or phrase that is less direct, but that is also less distasteful or less offensive than another

Euphony
Attempting to group words together harmoniously so that the consonants permit an easy and pleasing flow of sound when spoken

Evidence
Specific facts or examples used to support a claim in a piece of writing.

Explication
The detailed analysis of a literary work.

Explicit
To say or write something directly and clearly.

Exposition
An explanation of the meaning or purpose of a piece of writing, especially one that is difficult to understand.

Extended Metaphor
A metaphor that continues into the sentences that follow. It is often developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work.

Fallacy
an incorrect or misleading notion or opinion based on inaccurate facts or invalid reasoning

False Dilemma Fallacy
Too few of the avaiable alternatives are considered, and all but one are assessed and deemed impossible or unacceptable.

Farce
Extremely broad humor; in earlier times, a funny play or a comedy

Feminine Rhyme
Lines rhymed by their final two syllables.

Properly, the penultimate syllables are stressed and the final syllables are unstressed.

Foil
A character who illuminates the qualities of another character by means of contrast.

Foot
The basic rhythmic unit of a line of poetry, formed by a combination of two or three syllables, either stressed or unstressed.

Foreshadow
To present ideas, images, events, or comments that hint at events to come in a story.

Formal
Following established rules or conventions of writing.

Free Verse
Poetry written without a regular rhyme scheme or metrical pattern

Genre
A sub-category of literature.

Gothic
A sensibility that includes such features as dark, gloomy castles and weird screams from the attic each night.

Hamartia
A tragic or fatal character flaw that causes the downfall of a person of high status.

Hero
The principle character in a literary work or narrative.

Heroic Couplet
Two successive rhyming lines of iambic pentameter.

Hubris
The excessive pride or ambition that leads to the main character’s downfall

Hyperbole
A deliberate exaggeration or overstatement

Hypothetical
Involving a hypothesis (an assumption granted for the sake of argument).

Iamb
A poetic foot — light, heavy

Iamb
A poetic foot — unstressed, stressed

Iambic Meter
A line of poetry written with a unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable

Identification
A rhetorical technique in which a speaker suggests his or her similarity or closeness to a particular group, such as the audience.

Idiom
A way of speaking that is peculiar to a region, group, or class or the conventional forms peculiar to a language. Also an expression that is odd or incorrect and yet accepted, or one that has a meaning that does not clearly derive from the words that combine to form it.

Imagery
Language that brings to mind sense impressions, especially via figures of speech.

Imagery
Lively diescriptions which impress the images of things upon the mind; figures of speech

Implied Metaphor
A metaphor not explicitly stated, that compares two things by using adjectives that commonly describe one thing but are used to describe another

In media res
Latin for “in the midst of things,” i.e. beginning an epic poem in the middle of the action.

Indirect Characterization
The writer reveals information about a character through the character’s thoughts, words and actions

Induction
A form on reasoning which works from a body of fact to the formulation of a generalization

Informal
Refers to language appropriate for everyday, casual, or familiar conversation or writing.

Interior Monologue
Refers to writing that records the mental talking that goes on inside a character’s head; tends to be coherent.

Introduction
The first part of an argument, the purpose of which is to establish the topic to be discussed and engage the reader’s interest.

Inversion
Also called an Anastrophe, inverted order of words or events as a rhetorical scheme

Irony
A technique of detachment that draws awareness to the discrepancy between words and their meanings, between expectation and fulfillment, or, most commonly, between that is and what seems to be. Five types: verbal, situational, romantic, dramatic, and cosmic

Jargon
Phrases used in an occupation, trade, or field of study.

Juxtaposition
The arrangement of two or more ideas side by side for the purpose of comparison, contrast, rhetorical effect, suspense or character development

Lament
A poem of sadness or grief over the death of a loved one or over some other intense loss.

Lampoon
A satire.

Literal
Focusing on the explicit meaning of words only, and not dealing with context, connotation, figurative language, or other elements that add deeper shades of meaning to a text.

Litotes
A type of meiosis in which the writer uses a statement in the negative to create the effect.

Logic
The mode of reasoning by which we determine whether something is valid or invalid, according to which any claim should in principle be able to be justified by reasons and evidence.

Logos
Greek for wisdom or reason; The process of persuading by means of logic and reason.

Lyric
A type of poetry that explores the poet’s personal interpretation of and feelings about the world.

Main Idea
The central meaning, purpose, or concept around which a piece of writing is organized

Masculine Rhyme
A rhyme ending on the final stressed syllable (regular old rhyme)

Mediation
The process of bringing opposing parties or positions into a state of accord or compromise; also refers to negotiation.

Meiosis
Understatement

Melodrama
A form of cheesy theater in which the hero is very, very good, the villain mean and rotten, and the heroine oh-so-pure.

Metaphor
A comparison stated in such a way as to imply that one object is another one

Meter
A recognizable pattern of stressed syllables alternation with of more or less stress

Metonymy
Using a vaguely suggestive physical object to embody a more general idea. Crown represents royalty and king

Metrical Variations
A few lines that violate a well-defined overall metric pattern

Mixed Metaphor
One that leaps from one metaphor to a second inconsistent with the first.

e.g. “I want to pick your ear” mixed from I want to pick your brain and I want to bend your ear.

Mood
The atmosphere of a work of literature; the emotion created by the work (most notably by its setting).

Motif
A recurring idea, structure, contrast, or device that develops or informs the major themes of a work of literature.

Musical Devices
Elements of literature and poetry that emphasizes sound

Myth
A story about the origins of a culture’s beliefs and practices or of supernatural phenomena, usually derived from oral tradition and set in an imagined supernatural past.

Narrative
A story.

Narrative Device
A design or pattern in a literary work used to achieve a particular effect.

Narrator
The person who tells a story.

Negotiation
The process of discussion and compromise between conflicting positions.

Nemesis
The protagonist’s arch enemy or supreme and persistent difficulty.

Neologism
A new or invented word, expression, or usage.

Non Sequitur
A statement that does not follow logically from what preceded it.

Nostalgia
A yearning for the past or for some condition or state of existence that cannot be recovered.

Objectivity
Treatment of subject matter in an impersonal manner or from an outside view.

Octave
Eight lines rhyming A-B-B-A-A-B-B-A

Ode
A serious lyric poem, often of significant length, that usually conforms to an elaborate metrical structure.

Onomatopoeia
The use of sounds that are similar to the noise they represent for a rhetorical or artistic effect

Opening
The beginning of an argument of essay; an introduction.

Opposition
A pairing of images whereby each becomes more striking and informative because it’s placed in contrast to the other one.

Overstatement
An exaggeration of fact, hyperbole

Oxymoron
A phrase composed of opposites; a contradiction.

Parable
A short narrative that illustrates a moral by means of allegory.

Paradox
A situation or statement that seems to contradict itself, but on closer inspection, does not.

Parallelism
A pairing of images whereby each becomes more striking and informative because it’s placed in contrast to the other one.

Paraphrase
To restate phrases and sentences in your own words.

Parenthetical Phrase
A phrase set off by commas that interrupts the flow of a sentence with some commentary or added detail.

Parody
A humorous and often satirical imitation of the style or particular work of another author.

Pastiche
A work that imitates the style of a previous author, work, or literary genre; also work that contains a hodgepodge of elements from different sources.

Pastoral
A poem set in tranquil nature or even more specifically, one about shepherds.

Pathos
From the Greek Feelings; Literature that evokes high emotion, most commonly sorrow, pity, or compassion.

Pentameter
Poetry consisting of 5 feet in each line

Persona
The character an author assumes in a written work.

Personification
Abstractions, animals, ideas, and inanimate objects are given human characteristics, traits, abilities, or reactions

Perspective
The point of view through which a subject or its parts are mentally perceived.

Persuading
The process of influencing an audience to alter its actions and attitudes.

Plaint
A poem or speech expressing sorrow.

Poetic License
The liberty that authors sometimes take with ordinary literary rules.

Point of View
The perspective that a narrative takes toward the events it describes.

Position
A point of view or opinion on an issue.

Prelude
An introductory poem to a longer work of verse.

Prior Knowledge
Ideas, facts, or awareness that an audience already possesses about a topic.

Propaganda
Ideas, facts, or allegations spread to persuade others to support one’s cause or to go against the opposing cause.

Prose
Any composition not written in verse.

Protagonist
The main character around whom the story revolves.

Pun
The usually humorous use of a word in such a way to suggest two or more meanings.

Qualification
A statement that modifies or limits the meaning of a claim.

Quatrain
(Stave) stanza of four lines

Realism
A loose term that can refer to any work that aims at honest portrayal over sensationalism, exaggeration, or melodrama.

Reason
A statement offered as an explanation or justification for something.

Red Herring
Something that distracts attention from the real issue.

Refrain
A line or set of lines at the end of a stanza or section of a longer poem or song- these lines repeat at regular intervals in other stanzas or sections of the same work

Refutation
The process of proving something wrong by argument or evidence.

Register
One of the varieties of language appropriate to particular social situations.

. (Formal, informal, colloquial and slang)

Requiem
A song of prayer for the dead.

Retrospection
A narrative technique in which some of the events of a story are described after events that occur later in time have already been narrated.

Rhapsody
An intensely passionate verse or section of verse, usually of love or praise.

Rhetoric
The art of persuasion, or the art of speaking or writing well.

Rhetorical Context
The circumstances in which a text is written, including the intended audience, the author’s aim or purpose in writing, and the audience’s preexisting ideas and opinions.

Rhetorical Device
An extraordinary use of language to achieve a certain effect on an audience.

Rhetorical Question
A question asked for rhetorical effect to emphasize a point, no answer being expected.

Rhyme Scheme
The pattern of rhyme

Rhythm
The varying speed, loudness, pitch, elevation, intensity, and expressiveness of speech especially poetry

Romantic Irony
An author’s persistent presence in his or her work, meant to ensure that the audience will maintain critical detachment and not simply accept the writing at face value.

Satire
A work that exposes to ridicule the shortcomings of individuals, institutions, or society, often to make a political point.

Scansion
The act of scanning a poem to determine its meter

Sestet
Six line stanza

Setting
The location of a narrative in a time and space. Setting creates mood and atmosphere.

Simile
A comparison implied by using like or as

Situation Irony
A technique in which one understanding of situation stands in sharp contrast to another, usually more prevalent, understanding of the same situation.

Soliloquy
A monologue spoken by an actor when the character believes himself to be alone. The technique frequently reveals a character innermost thoughts

Spatial Ordering
Organization of information using spatial cues such as top to bottom, left to right, etc.

Speaker
The narrator of a poem. The speaker and the author of the poem are not the same person.

Spondee
A poetic foot — heavy, heavy

Spondee
A poetic foot — stressed, stressed

Stanza
An arrangement of lines of verse in a pattern usually repeated throughout the poem

Stock Characters
Standard or clichéd character types.

Stream-of-Consciousness Narration
Form of narration in which the narrator conveys a subject’s thoughts as they occur often in a disjointed fashion.

Subjectivity
A treatment of subject matter that uses the interior or personal view of a single observer and is typically colored with that observer’s emotional responses.

Subjunctive Mood
A grammatical situation involving the words “if” and “were,” setting up a hypothetical situation.

Summary
A simple retelling of what you’ve just read.

Suspension of Disbelief
The demand made of a theater audience to accept the limitations of staging and supply the details with their imagination.

Syllepsis
A stylistic device in which a single word governs or modifies two or more other words in different ways. e.

g. Mr. Pickwick took HIS hat and HIS leave.

Syllogism
A form of reasoning in which two statements are made and a logical conclusion is drawn from them.

Symbolism
The use of objects, characters, figures, or colors to represent abstract ideas or concepts. Unlike emblems, symbols may have different meanings in different contexts.

Synecdoche
A rhetorical device involving a part of an object representing the whole or the whole representing a part

Syntax
The way the words in a piece of writing are put together to form lines, phrases, or clauses; the basic structure of a piece of writing.

Technique
The methods and tools of the author.

Tercet
Three-line stanza

Terza Rima
Three line stanza form with interlocking rhymes that move from one stanza to the next.

Tetrameter
A poetic line with four feet

Theme
A fundamental and universal idea explored in a literary work.

Thesis Statement
The main idea, or principle claim, that is supported in a work of nonfiction.

Tone
The author’s attitude toward the subject or character of a story or poem, or toward the reader.

Tragic Flaw
In a tragedy, this is the weakness of a character in an otherwise good individual that ultimately leads to his demise (Hamartia).

Transition Words
Words that connect ideas and show the relationships between those ideas.

Travesty
A grotesque parody.

Tricolon
The division of an idea into three harmonious parts, usually increasing power. e.

g. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Trochee
A poetic foot — heavy, light

Trochee
A poetic foot — stressed, unstressed

Trope
A figure of speech that extends the literal meanings of words by inviting a comparison to other words, things, or meanings.

Understatement
Deliberately representing something as much less important that it really is.

Unreliable Narration
A process of narrating in which the narrator is revealed over time to be an untrustworthy source of information.

Utopia
An imaginary, perfect world presented in literature. Opposite of Dystopia

Values
Principles or qualities that people hold to be instinctively good, such as justice, fairness and equality.

Verbal Irony
The use of a statement that, because of its context mean its opposite.

Verisimilitude
The sense that what one reads is real or at least realistic and believable

Vernacular
The everyday or common language of a geographical area

Versification
Literally the making of verse; the technical and practical aspect of making poems

Voice
An author’s individual way of using language to reflect his or her own personality and attitudes. An author communicates voice through tone, diction and syntax.

Wit
A form of wordplay that displays cleverness or ingenuity with language.

Often, but not always, wit displays humor.

Zeugma
The use of a word to modify two or more words, but used for different meanings. e.g.

He closed the door and his heart and on his lost love.

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