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CRTW 201 Vocabulary Words

Denotative: "The most direct or specific meaning of a word; how it is defined." (Imaginative Writing; see
pg. 303)
Connotative: "The complex meanings and ideas that come to be associated with a word, as 'rose' suggests
not only the flower but beauty, fragrance, womanhood, perhaps ephemerality, and/or the hidden threat of
thorns." (Imaginative Writing; see pg. 303)
Sign (this term will help you understand the definition of signifier and signified): "A basic unit of
communication, either linguistic (as a letter, a word, etc.) or non-linguistic (as an image, a sound, etc.), able
to be interpreted by members of a certain group; anything that can be construed as conveying meaning."
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Signifier: "The physical form of a sign, such as a sound, written word, or image, as distinct from its
meaning." (Oxford English Dictionary)
Signified: "The concept or idea expressed by a sign, as distinct from the physical form in which it is
expressed and the actual entity to which the sign refers." (Oxford English Dictionary)
Metonymy: "A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is used as a substitute for another with which
it is associated, as in the pen is mightier than the sword, or when inside the beltway is used to mean the
U.S. government in Washington." (Imaginative Writing, pg. 379; also see pg. 21)
Synecdoche: "A figure of speech in which a part stands in for the whole, as in all hands on deck or I'm
going to get some new wheels." (Imaginative Writing, pg. 382; also see pg. 21)
Personification: "The technique of giving human attributes or emotions to animals, objects, or concepts, as
in 'the water lapped eagerly at the shore.'" (Imaginative Writing, pg. 380; also see pg. 22)
Metaphor: "The comparison of one term with another such that a tension is created between what is alike
and what is unlike between the two terms. A metaphor assumes or states the comparison, without
acknowledging thta it is a comparison: My electric muscles shock the crowd; Her hair is seaweed and she
is the sea. The metaphor may come in the form of an adjective: They have a piggy and a fishy air. Or it
may come as a verb: The bees shouldering the grass." (Imaginative Writing, pg. 379; see also pg. 22)
Simile: A comparison using the word like or as. A simile is a type of metaphor that acknowledges the
comparison by using the words like or as: His teeth rattled like dice in a box; My head is light as a
balloon; I will fall like an ocean on that court." (Imaginative Writing, pg. 381 & 379; see also pg. 22)
Hyperbole: "A figure of speech consisting in exaggerated or extravagant statement, used to express strong
feeling or produce a strong impression, and not intended to be understood literally" (Oxford English
Associative Logic: This system of thinking, with which one determines truth and meaning, is governed by
the mental process of making associations.
Objective Correlative: "The physical equivalent or manifestation of an immaterial thing or abstract idea;
specifically (and usually, following T. S. Eliot) the technique in art of representing or evoking a particular
emotion by means of symbols, which become associated with and indicative of that emotion." (Oxford
English Dictionary)
Style: "The manner of expression characteristic of a particular writer (hence of an orator), or of a literary
group of period; a writer's mode of expression considered in regard to clearness, effectiveness, beauty, and
the like" (Oxford English dictionary).

Persona: A mask adopted by the author, which may be a public manifestation of the author's self; or a
distorted or partial version of that self; or a fictional, historical, or mythological character. (Imaginative
Writing, pg. 380, pg. 50)
Irony: "Always involves a contradiction or a denial of expectation in some area. Verbal irony occurs where
one thing is said and another or its opposite is meant, as in Brutus is an honorable man. So are they all, all
honorable men. In dramatic irony, the audience knows something that the character does not, and so puts a
different interpretation on the events. Example: Oedipus thinks it great good news that King Polybus has
died of old age, for this seems to disprove the oracle that he would kill his father. The audience knows that
Polybus was not really his father. So-called cosmic irony is a contradiction inherent in human action or the
human condition: Using DDT to poison the insects and so grow healthier crops, farmers poison the water
in the aquifer from which people drink." (Imaginative Writing, pg. 379, pg 52.)
Diction: "A combination of vocabulary, the words chosen, and syntax, the order in which they are used.
diction will convey not only the facts but also the tone and attitude of the person whose voice speaks to us
from the page" (Imaginative Writing, pg. 377, pg 48). & "The manner in which anything is expressed in
(spoken or written) words; choice or selection of words and phrases; wording, phrasing; verbal style."
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Syntax: "The arrangement of words (in their appropriate forms) by which their connection and relation in a
sentence are shown. Also, the constructional uses of a word or form or a class of words or forms, or those
characteristic of a particular author." (Oxford English Dictionary) & "The arrangement of words within a
sentence" (Imaginative Writing, pg. 382, pg. 48)
Point of View: "A complex technique of narrative involving who tells the story, to whom, in what form.
Importantly, the person in which the story is told, and the vantage point from which the story is told,
contribute to the ultimate meaning of events" (Imaginative Writing, pg. 380, pg. 55)
Realism:"Esp. in reference to art, film, and literature: close resemblance to what is real; fidelity of
representation, rendering the precise details of the real thing or scene. Also: an instance or example of this."
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Juxtaposition: "The action of placing two or more things close together or side by side, or one thing with or
beside another; the condition of being so placed." (Oxford English Dictionary)
Surrealism: "A movement in art and literature seeking to express the subconscious mind by any of a
number of different techniques, including the irrational juxtaposition of realistic images, the creation of
mysterious symbols, and automatism (see automatism n. 4b); art or literature produced by or reminiscent of
this movement." (Oxford English Dictionary)*Automatism (see surrealism definition): "The technique of
seeking to eliminate conscious thought from the creative process; the result of this, a form of (esp.
surrealist) art produced spontaneously from the subconscious mind." (Oxford English Dictionary)
Collage: "An abstract form of art in which photographs, pieces of paper, newspaper cuttings, string, etc.,
are placed in juxtaposition and glued to the pictorial surface; such a work of art." (OED)
Subtext: "The under or below text; what is not said or done. The term has a wide application to literature
in general; particularly, perhaps, to the novel and short story, and other fictional genres, and to poetry. A
reader tends to construct a subtext for herself or himself, imagining or interpreting what is not said or not
done (and how it is not said or done), what may be implied, suggested or hinted, what is ambiguous,
marginal, ambivalent, evasive, emphasized or not emphasized and so on. In doing all this the reader
exercises insight into the unconscious elements in the work itself and thus elicits additional meanings."
(from A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory by Cuddon)
Magical Realism: "Originally: a style of painting which depicts fantastic or bizarre images in a precise
representationalist manner (first used in German to describe the work of members of the Neue Sachlichkeit
movement). In extended use: any artistic or esp. literary style in which realistic techniques such as

naturalistic detail, narrative, etc., are similarly combined with surreal or dreamlike elements." (OED)
Satire: "A poem, or in modern use sometimes a prose composition, in which prevailing vices or follies are
held up to ridicule. Sometimes, less correctly, applied to a composition in verse or prose intended to
ridicule a particular person or class of persons, a lampoon." (OED)
Postmodernism: "A general (and often hotly debated) label referring to the philosophical, artistic, and
literary changes and tendencies after the 1940s and 1950s up to the present day. We can speak of
postmodern art, music, architecture, literature, and poetry using the same generic label. The tendencies of
postmodernism include (1) a rejection of traditional authority, (2) radical experimentation--in some cases
bordering on gimmickry, (3) eclecticism and multiculturalism, (4) parody and pastiche, (5) deliberate
anachronism or surrealism, and (6) a cynical or ironic self-awareness (often postmodernism mocks its own
characteristic traits). In many ways, these traits are all features that first appeared in modernism, but
postmodernism magnifies and intensifies these earlier characteristics. It also seems to me that, while
modernism rejected much of tradition, it clung to science as a hopeful and objective cure to the past
insanities of history, culture and superstition. Modernism hoped to tear down tradition and longed to build
something better in its ruins. Postmodernism, on the other hand, is often suspicious of scientific claims, and
often denies the possibility or desirability of establishing any objective truths and shared cultural standards.
It usually embraces pluralism and spurns monolithic beliefs, and it often borders on solipsism. While
modernism mourned the passing of unified cultural tradition, and wept for its demise in the ruined heap of
civilization, so to speak, postmodernism tends to dance in the ruins and play with the fragments.
Some of the new literary movements growing from postmodernism include the darker or horrific tales of
science fiction, neo-Gothic literature, late twentieth-century horror stories, concrete poetry, magic realism,
Theater of the Absurd, and so on. Finally, postmodernism is often used loosely and interchangeably with
the critical movements following post-structuralism--the growing realms of Marxist, materialist, feminist,
and psychoanalytical approaches to literature that developed during and after the 1970s.
Pastiche: "Composed as an imitation or parody of a particular style or artist" (OED).
Fragmentation: "A breaking or separation into fragments" (OED). In our class, look for fragmentation of
narratives, characters and other elements of craft.
Montage: "a mixture, blend, or medley of various elements; a pastiche, miscellany; (also) the process of
making such a mixture" (OED).
Plot: "The plan or scheme of a literary or dramatic work; the main events of a play, novel, film, opera, etc.,
considered or presented as an interrelated sequence; a storyline" (OED).
Narrative: "The part of a text, esp. a work of fiction, which represents the sequence of events, as
distinguished from that dealing with dialogue, description, etc.; narration as a literary method or genre"
Ambiguity: The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or
Ambivalence: The coexistence in one person of contradictory emotions or attitudes (as love and hatred)
towards a person or thing. (Oxford English Dictionary)