Literary Vocab and Tenets of Modernism

Topic: EnvironmentNatural Disasters
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Last updated: May 4, 2019
Accentual-syllabic verse
a verse that focuses on the number of syllables per line and on the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables to determine its rhythm

Allusion
a brief reference to a historical or literary person, event, or object

Alliteration
repeated initial consonant or vowel sounds in adjacent words or syllables

Assonance
same or similar vowel sounds in stressed syllables that end with different consonant sounds (lake and fate)

Aubade
a poem that takes place in the morning, usually after a night of lovemaking

Blank Verse
unrhymed but rhythmic verse, usually in iambic pentameter

Caesura
a pause within a line

Carpe Diem
Latin for “seize the day”; a theme of many poems advocating living life to the fullest now rather than regretting one’s reticence later

Chiasmus
a pattern in which the second part is balanced against the first but with the parts reversed JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country”

Conceit
an extended and elaborate metaphor or simile, often sustained through a whole poem

Enjambment
the continuation of one line of poetry to the next

Heroic Couplet
a pair of rhyming lines in iambic pentameter

Meta-
a prefix often applied to various literary terms to form words such as METAPOETRY (Poetry about poetry)and METAFICTION.

Metaphor
an analogy identifying one object with another fundamentally different objecy and ascribing qualities of object to the other

Metonymy
a trope in which an object closely associated with a word is substituted for that word, such as “White House” for “the President of the United States”

Onomatopoeia
words whose spoken sounds suggest their meaning, such as hiss” or “buzz”

Pastoral
from pastor, Latin for “shepherd”; a poem that refers to the rustic life of simple country folk

Simile
a direct comparison of similar objects that uses term of comparison such as “like” or “as”

Sonnet
a fourteen line poem, usually with ten syllables per line, that has a regular rhyme scheme; the topic in a sonnet is usually love, often that platonic of requited kind

Shakespearean Sonnet
divided into three quatrains (usually rhymed abab cdcd efef gg) with the last one being a heroic couplet

Synaesthesia
the description of one kind of sensation in terms of another—a sweet sound, a loud shirt, a green smell

Synecdoche
a trope in which a part signifies a whole or a whole signifies a part

Trope
a word/term used in a sense that differs from its usual or literal meaning; metaphors, similes, metonymy and synecdoche are examples

Diction
word choice

Hyperbole
exaggeration for effect or for humor

Irony
generally, the recognition of a reality different from appearance. Verbal irony occurs when the intended meaning is expressed in words that carry the opposite meaning. Dramatic irony occurs when the audience/reader is aware of something of which the characters are unaware of.

Motif
a simple element that serves as a basis for expanded narrative

Postmodern
literary period, 1965-ish to perhaps the present day; used primarily to refer to British works; the postmodern era is characterized by a recurring motif of spiritual malaise

Protagonist
the chief character in a work with whom the reader generally sympathizes

Renaissance
literally means rebirth

Satire
a work or manner that blends a censorious attitude with humor and wit for the purpose of an improving human institutions or humanity

Stream of consciousness
total range of awareness and emotive-mental response of an individual, form lowest pre-speech level to the highest fully articulated level or rational thought

Style
author’s combination of diction, sentence structure and variety, imagery, rhythm, repetition, coherence, emphasis, and arrangement of ideas.

No two styles are alike

Symbol
something that is itself and also stands for something else.

Syntax
word order

Theme
a central idea of a work, but not a stagnant topic

Tone
attitudes toward subject and audience implied in a literary work (formal, informal, intimate, solemn, somber, playful, serious, ironic, condescending, etc)

Tenet of Modernism 1
the replacement if religious certainty and moral absolutes by skepticism, doubt, agnosticism, and intellectual relativism (the view that there are no unalterable moral commandments binding upon all people in all circumstances but that judgments of conduct and ideas must be made relative to changing circumstances)

Tenet of Modernism 2
a strong stress upon estrangement- or, as it is often called, alienation- from the prevalent standards of society, whihc are seen as corrupted (materialistic) or mediocre (bourgeois) or hypocritical (falsely pious)

Tenet of Modernism 3
a fascination with human subjectivity- that is, the view that what matters most in our time is not so much the nature of either the external physical world or the social world but, rather, the way in which our impressions of these worlds are registered in human consciousness

Tenet of Modernism 4
a feeling that in a universe deprived of God and the comforts of religion, we have been left homeless, strangers in the universe, and must therefore consume ourselves with introspective anxiety and self-mortification

Tenet of Modernism 5
an increasing doubt as to the value or relevance of rational thought, now seen not as a path to knowledge and wisdom but as a way of classifying and thereby squeezing the life out of intuitions and perceptions

Tenet of Modernism 6
a feeling that, with the collapse of moral certainties, there remains nothing for men and women but to engage in the boldest experiments, to forge a new order of values in personal relationships and in the creation of art and the reconstruction of society

Tenet of Modernism 7
and, finally, a gnawing doubt as to the purpose or even value of human life. This doubt can lead to the tacit conclusion that our existence on this earth is pointless, a transitory encounter with pleasure and a prolonged exposure to pain, all of which may end with the doctrine or mood of nihilism (the denial of meaning in life and thereby, if pushed hard enough, a denial of like itself)

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