2017-18, 1st Semester
Level 3000

EL3221 Literary Stylistics
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Coordinator, Quota & B.Y.O.D.
General Aim
      More Specific Aims
Helpful Modules
Relation to Higher Modules
Pedagogical Method
Practical Work

       Course Text
       Useful Texts
       Useful Cybertexts
       Suggested Literary Text
       Supplementary Readings
Note to Students
Link to the Workshop Schedule

Please note that this site is in the process of being revised for the new academic year.

Workshop Coordinator: Assoc Prof Ismail S. Talib. E-mail: ellibst@nus.edu.sg.

Quota: 30 students.

B.Y.O.D.: This is a Bring Your Own Device module. Students are required to bring their own Internet-connected devices (eg. laptop, tablet or smart phone) to class. They will be able to use the wi-fi connection at the venue.

EL3221 Programme
EL3221 Quick Links

General aim: The general aim of this module is to introduce students to the linguistic and discourse-analytical approaches to style in literary works.
More specific aims:
1) How to enhance thinking and feeling about language through a more qualitative and emotive approach.
2) How to apply some of the concepts taught to texts covered in the module. Students will also be asked on how these concepts could be applied to other texts.
3) To think critically about the concepts and approaches dealt with in the module.

Helpful modules: There are no prerequisite modules which students must take before doing this module. However, all students are expected to have a grasp of basic issues in linguistics and an interest in literature in English. Prior training in literature may be helpful, but not necessary; however, students should have a sensitivity to the language of literature. Although none of the following modules are essential, students may find some of them helpful: An Introduction to Literary Studies (in the EN series); (and in the EL series) The Nature of Language, Structure of Sentences and Meanings and The Sound System of English.

Relationship of this module to the EL4000 & EL5000 series: As an EL module in the 3000 series, one of the functions of this module is to introduce students to some of the ideas and applications which they may employ in the Honours year programme in English Language. Students intending to do higher degrees may also find the module useful. Some of the workshop notes for this module were in fact used for the EL5221 The Linguistic Analysis of Literature module, which is not taught this year. 

Content: It is not possible to do a stylistic analysis of literary works without some basic knowledge of linguistics. Students will be analysing style in literary works by looking at some grammatical categories, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, amongst others. They will also be analysing the sound features of poetry, and point-of-view and speech and thought presentation in fictional narratives. In the latter part of the module, students will be using some pragmatic concepts for the analysis of literary texts and will consider some linguistic approaches for the study of postcolonial literatures. The sequence for the abovementioned topics and their corresponding weeks during the semester are given in the workshop schedule.

Pedagogical method & assessment:This module will follow the workshop format. As such, it is an assessment-intensive module. You will be assessed at every session. For this reason, a final formal examination is not needed.

Practical work (100% continuous assessment):
Practical work will consist of the following:
1) Quizzes (all sessions) (20%)
2) Short interpretive responses (all sessions) (20%)
3) 2 essays (each half of the semester) (30%)
4) Class participation (15%)
5) IVLE participation (15%)

A brief inter-related description of 1-4 above is given here.

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The workshop notes are available on the Internet. For the webnotes that are relevant for this year's workshops, look at the programme. Students are required to read the relevant webnotes before going to class. You will be tested on your knowledge of the relevant webnotes during each session.

Useful Texts

For much of this module, basic knowledge of linguistics and discourse analysis is needed. Brief notes on grammar and discourse analysis are available on the web (for the relevant notes for this module, please refer to the programme). You will also find the following texts useful for some of the workshops in the module:

Carter, Ronald (ed.). Language and Literature. London: Unwin, 1982.
Hasan, Ruqaiya. Linguistics, Language and Verbal Art. Deakin UP, 1985.
Leech, Geoffrey N. A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry (e-book). London: Longman, 1969.
--- & M.H. Short. Style in Fiction. London: Longman, 1981.
Simpson, Paul. Stylistics: A Resource Book for Students (e-book). London: Routledge, 2004.
Talib, Ismail S. The Language of Postcolonial Literatures: An Introduction. E-book. London: Routledge, 2002.
Wales, Katie. Dictionary of Stylistics. London: Longman, 1989.

Do you want to check the availability and call numbers of the above books at the NUS Library? Click on the following acronym to access the library holdings: LINC.

Useful Cybertexts

With regard to some basic elementary facts of English grammar you may find some of the grammar handouts from the Purdue University On-Line Writing Lab (OWL) and The University of Victoria Writer's Guide to be useful. Also of interest is John Lawler's English Grammar Frequently Asked Questions, as posted to alt.usage.english.

There are, of course, other electronic books or notes which you may find useful (please do not hesitate to inform me of any new additions to the net, or old ones I have missed out). Among them are Jack Lynch's Guide to Grammar and Style and the classic (1918 vintage) Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. Both these books deal with style, but viewed from a different angle: that of production. We will be looking at style from the perspective of reception. Also, they are more prescriptivist and traditional in their approach to grammar than us. However, you will find many of their observations useful, especially in relation to writing your essays.

For information on stylistics, you can visit the home pages of the Poetics and Linguistics Association, and  the Société de stylistique anglaise. There are also some basic electronic reference books available on the net, such as Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Roget's Thesaurus amongst several others. For copyright reasons, the Oxford English Dictionary is not freely available on the net, but the electronic version is available in the NUS Library. For dictionaries of linguistics available on the Web, you may want to take a look at the extensive Lexicon of Linguistics from the University of Utrecht, or the Summer Institute of Linguistics' Glossary of Linguistic Terms.

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Suggested Literary Texts for Stylistic Analysis:

Numerous extracts from literary texts will be given during the course of the semester. One of the following works may be used for one of the essays:

A. Joyce, James. The Dubliners. Ed. by Terence Brown. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992.

Picture on the left: Joyce as a young man in Dublin.
 Picture on the right: Dublin in 1910, from the cover of your recommended text.

Dubliners is also available on cyberspace.

Click here for the electronic version of the book. You can make use of this version to download any of the stories, conduct word searches (if you download the ASCII version) etc. But for some of you, it may not be a substitute for the hard copy version suggested above. At any rate, the Penguin edition has an Introduction and annotations written by Terence Brown. However, great strides have been made in the Internet guides to the book (see the instructions for the first essay assignment).

The following is an alternative possibility:

B. Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn. (Most unabridged editions of this novel, including reliable electronic versions, should be acceptable).

Supplementary Readings

Further readings will be given when they are needed during the course of the semester.

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A note to my students (and all readers of these Web pages): As you will notice, much of the notes given here deal with technical concerns. In putting the notes on the Web, I hope that most of the technicalities will be cleared without taking too much of the time during worshop sessions. The more important literary stylistic aspects will be dealt with during the workshops. Some of the interpretations of the selected passages given during the workshops may be my own interpretations, but students should learn to develop their own way of thinking, and not to be entirely dependent on their teacher here. This is where the workshops and the assessment tasks during the sessions will play a significant part in moulding your own approach to style in literary texts.

Click here for your workshop schedule.

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© Ismail S. Talib 1995-2017.
Last revised 18 May 2017