What is Realism in Literature?

There is a spectrum of how real-world a story feels. Realism is a widely misunderstood term even within literary studies today. The terms are used differently depending on location. They’re also heavily classed and slightly gendered to boot. Humanities scholars spend a lot of time arguing about the meaning of realism. But let’s at least……

What is a twice-told tale?

Dictionary Definition of twice-told Twice-told officially means well-known from repeated telling. The word is used chiefly in the phrase “twice-told tale”. First Known Use The word first took off around the year 1597, in the meaning above. Various Meanings In Contemporary Use Twice-Told Tales is a short story collection in two volumes by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The first volume came out in……

Whimsy: What does it mean for a book to be whimsical?

Milo Winter (1888 – 1956)

What are the common features of popular works commonly described as ‘whimsical’? A long while ago I swapped a middle grade critique with someone who had used ‘whimsical’ in the title of their work, yet the story itself did not feel whimsical. I started to wonder about the unspoken rules of ‘whimsical’. But could I……

What is literary modernism?

1918 We Are Making a New World, Paul Nash, UK

I keep saying that Katherine Mansfield is a standout example of a Modernist short story writer, but what does ‘modernist’ really mean? “Make it new!” EZRA POUND, 1934 The Modernist Timeline Where does the word come from? The word modernism first appeared in 1737, and kept shifting in meaning. For ages it meant “a sense of forward-looking contemporaneity”……

What is mystery boxing?

Mystery boxing is a storytelling technique which has only been accepted by popular audiences since about the year 2000. Back in 2000, the technique didn’t yet have a name. A BRIEF HISTORY OF MYSTERY BOXING It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.James Thurber In 2007 J.J. Abrams gave a now-famous Ted……

What is an illocutionary act?

In The Office skit below, Michael Scott is attempting to imitate a Southern American accent for a game. He tries to sound Southern by saying “I do declare” at the end of each sentence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bLSVAangvw&ab_channel=avesquigs As Michael Scott is using it, “I do declare” is an exclamatory embellishment rather than an illocutionary act. The character……

Defamiliarisation and the Estrangement Effect in Literature

WHAT IS DEFAMILIARISATION? [Defamiliarisation is] taking something and trying to see it anew and then noticing what you might not have seen before.Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen To defamiliarise is to make the familiar seem unfamiliar. Defamiliarisation is one of the writing techniques in the……