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Literary Terms Glossary
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The following is a list of literary terms; that is, those words used in discussion, classification, criticism, and analysis of poetry, novels and picture books.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W

* Caesura

In meter, a caesura (alternative spellings are cæsura and cesura) is a complete stop in a line of poetry. The plural form of caesura is caesuras or caesurae.

There are two types of caesurae: masculine and feminine. A masculine caesura is a pause that follows a stressed syllable; a feminine caesura follows an unstressed syllable. Another distinction is by the position of the caesura in a line. An initial caesura describes a break close to the beginning of a line, a medial denotes a pause in the middle and a terminal occurs at the very end. Initial and terminal caesurae were rare in formal, Romance, and Neoclassical verse, which preferred medial caesurae. In scansion, the "double pipe" sign ("||") is used to denote the position of a caesura in a line.

* Calligram

A calligram is a poem, phrase, or word in which the typeface, calligraphy or handwriting is arranged in a way that creates a visual image. The image created by the words expesses visually what the word, or words, say. In a poem, it manifests visually the theme presented by the text of the poem. Guillaume Apollinaire was a famous calligram writer and author of a book of poems called Calligrammes. His poem written in the form of the Eiffel Tower is an example of a calligram.

* Canon

The Western canon is a term used to denote a canon of books, and, more widely, music and art, that has been the most influential in shaping Western culture. It asserts a compendium of the "greatest works of artistic merit." Such a canon is important to the theory of educational perennialism and the development of "high culture". Although previously held in high regard, it has been the subject of increasing contention through the latter half of the 20th century. In practice, debates and attempts to actually define the canon in lists are essentially restricted to books of various sorts: literature, including poetry, fiction and drama, autobiographical writings and letters, philosophy and history. A few accessible books on the sciences are usually included.

* Canso

The cansó or cançó is a song style used by the troubadours. It consists of three parts. The first stanza is the exordium, where the composer explains his purpose. The main body of the song occurs in the following stanzas, and usually draw out a variety of relationships with the exordium. The canso can end with either a tornada or envoi. This part usually bring the piece to some form of resolution. A tornada is a shortened stanza, containing only a latter part of the standard stanza used up to that point. Some cansós contain more than one tornada.

The cansó became, in Old French, the grand chant.

* Canto

The canto is a principal form of division in a long poem, especially the epic. The word comes from Italian, from the Latin canto, meaning "I sing". Famous examples of epic poetry which employ the canto division are Lord Byron's Don Juan, Valmiki's The Ramayana (500 cantos), Dante's The Divine Comedy (100 cantos), and Ezra Pound's The Cantos (120 cantos).

* Canzone

Literally "song" in Italian, a canzone (plural: canzoni) (cognate with English to chant) is an Italian or Provençal song or ballad. It is also used to describe a type of lyric which resembles a madrigal. Sometimes a composition which is simple and songlike is designated as a canzone, especially if it is by a non-Italian; a good example is the aria "Voi che sapete" from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

* Captivity narrative

Captivity narratives are stories of people captured by "uncivilized" enemies. The narratives often include a theme of redemption by faith in the face of the threats and temptations of an alien way of life. Barbary captivity narratives, stories of Englishmen captured by Barbary pirates, were popular in England in the 16th and 17th centuries. As British colonists in North America became subject to capture, some published captivity narratives, which were popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the colonies.

* Caricature

A caricature can refer to a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.

* Carmen figuratum

Carmen figuratum (plural: carmina figurata) is a poem that has a certain shape or pattern formed either by all the words it contains or just by certain ones therein. An example is France Prešeren's Zdravljica, where the shape of each stanza resembles a wine cup. The term derives from the carmina figurata of Renaissance texts - works in which a sacred image was picked out in red letters against a field of black type so that a holy figure could be seen and meditated on during the process of reading.

* Carpe diem

Carpe diem ('seize the day') is a phrase from a Latin poem by Horace (see "Source" section below) that has become an aphorism. It is popularly translated as "seize the day". Carpe literally means "to pick, pluck, pluck off, cull, crop, gather", but Ovid used the word in the sense of, "To enjoy, seize, use, make use of". Though it is a misconception that it says "seize the day" this may be because it is an imperfect translation.

* Catachresis

Catachresis (from Greek κατάχρησις, "abuse") is "misapplication of a word, especially in a mixed metaphor" according to the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. Another meaning is to use an existing word to denote something that has no name in the current language.. Catachresis is a very common habit, and can have both positive and negative effects on language: on the one hand, it helps a language evolve and overcome poverty of expression; on the other, it can lead to miscommunications or make the language of one era incompatible with that of another. Catachresis is more a linguistic phenomenon than a figure of speech.

* Catalectic (Catalexis)

An acatalectic line of verse is one having the metrically complete number of syllables in the final foot. When talking about poetry written in English the term is arguably of limited significance or utility, at least by comparison to its antonym, catalectic, for the simple reason that acatalexis is considered to be the "usual case" in the large majority of metrical contexts and therefore explicit reference to it proves almost universally superfluous.

* Catastrophe

In drama, particularly the tragedies of classical antiquity, the catastrophe is the final resolution in a poem or narrative plot, which unravels the intrigue and brings the piece to a close. In comedies, this may be a marriage between main characters; in tragedies, it may be the death of one or more main characters. It is the final part of a play, following the protasis, epitasis, and catastasis.


* Catharsis

Catharsis or katharsis (Ancient Greek: κάθαρσις) is a Greek word meaning "cleansing" or "purging". It is derived from the verb καθαίρειν, kathairein, "to purify, purge," and it is related to the adjective καθαρός, katharos, "pure or clean."

* Caudate sonnet

A caudate sonnet is an expanded version of the sonnet. It consists of 14 lines in standard sonnet forms followed by a coda (Latin cauda meaning "tail", from which the name is derived).

The invention of the form is credited to Francesco Berni. According to the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry, the form is most frequently used for satire, such as the most prominent English instance, John Milton's "On the New Forcers of Conscience Under the Long Parliament."

* Cavalier poetry

Cavalier poets is a broad description of a school of English poets of the 17th century, who came from the classes that supported King Charles I during the English Civil War. Much of their poetry is light in style, and generally secular in subject. They were marked out by their lifestyle and religion from the Roundheads, who supported Parliament and were often Puritans (either Presbyterians or Independents).

* Celtic Renaissance

Celtic art is the art associated with the peoples known as Celts; those who spoke the Celtic languages in Europe from pre-history through to the modern period, as well as the art of ancient peoples whose language is uncertain, but have cultural and stylistic similarities with speakers of Celtic languages.

* Celtic Twilight

Celtic Revival covers a variety of movements and trends, mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries, which drew on the traditions of Celtic literature and Celtic art, or in fact more often what art historians call Insular art. Although the revival was complex and multifaceted, occurring across many fields and in various countries in North-West Europe, its best known incarnation is probably the Irish Literary Revival also called the Celtic Twilight. Here, Irish writers including William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, "AE" Russell, Edward Martyn and Edward Plunkett (AKA Lord Dunsany) stimulated a new appreciation of traditional Irish literature and Irish poetry in the late 19th and early 20th century.

* Caesura

In meter, a caesura (alternative spellings are cæsura and cesura) is a complete stop in a line of poetry. The plural form of caesura is caesuras or caesurae.

There are two types of caesurae: masculine and feminine. A masculine caesura is a pause that follows a stressed syllable; a feminine caesura follows an unstressed syllable. Another distinction is by the position of the caesura in a line. An initial caesura describes a break close to the beginning of a line, a medial denotes a pause in the middle and a terminal occurs at the very end. Initial and terminal caesurae were rare in formal, Romance, and Neoclassical verse, which preferred medial caesurae. In scansion, the "double pipe" sign ("||") is used to denote the position of a caesura in a line.

* Chain of Being

The great chain of being (Latin: scala naturae, literally "ladder or stair-way of nature"), is a classical Christian and Western medieval concept detailing a strict, hierarchical structure of all matter and life, believed to have been decreed by the Christian God.

* Chanson de geste

The chansons de geste, Old French for "songs of heroic deeds [or lineages]", are the epic poems that appear at the dawn of French literature. The earliest known examples date from the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, nearly a hundred years before the emergence of the lyric poetry of the trouvères (troubadours) and the earliest verse romances. The French chanson gave rise to the Old Spanish tradition of the cantar de gesta.

* Chansonnier

A chansonnier (Catalan: cançoner, Occitan: cançonièr, Galician and Portuguese: cancioneiro, Italian: canzoniere or canzoniéro, Spanish: cancionero) is a manuscript or printed book which contains a collection of chansons, or polyphonic and monophonic settings of songs, hence literally "song-books," although some manuscripts are so called even though they preserve the text but not the music (for example, the Cancioneiro da Vaticana and Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional, which contain the bulk of Galician-Portuguese lyric). The most important chansonniers contain lyrics, poems and songs of the troubadours and trouvères of the Middle Ages. Prior to 1420, many song-books contained both sacred and secular music, one exception being those containing the work of Guillaume de Machaut. Around 1420, sacred and secular music was segregated into separate sources, with large choirbooks containing sacred music, and smaller chansonniers for more private use by the privileged. Chansonniers were compiled primarily in France, but also in Italy, Germany and in the Iberian peninsula.

* Chant royal

The Chant Royal is a poetic form that is a variation of the ballad form and consists of five eleven-line stanzas with a rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-d-E and a five-line envoi rhyming d-d-e-d-E or a seven-line envoi c-c-d-d-e-d-E. To add to the complexity, no rhyming word was used twiceIt was introduced into French poetry in the 14th century by Christine de Pizan and Charles d'Orléans and was introduced into England towards the end of the 19th century as part of a general revival of interest in French poetic forms. The complexity of the form caused William Caswell Jones to describe it as "impractical" for common use The Chant Royal was the most complicated form of poetry in Northern France during the 14th century, though not as complex as the sestina, which was more popular in Southern France. The form was often used for stately, or heroic subjects.

* Chantey (Chanty)

Sea shanties (singular "shanty", also spelled "chantey"; derived from the French word "chanter", 'to sing') were shipboard working songs. Some speculate that shanties may have been sung as early as the 15th century though there is little evidence to support this claim. The shanties that survived to be collected and preserved date from the 19th century through the days of steam ships in the first half of the 20th century.

* Chapbook

A Chapbook is a pocket-sized booklet.

The term chap-book was formalized by bibliophiles of the 19th century, as a variety of ephemera (disposable printed material), popular or folk literature. It includes many kinds of printed material such as pamphlets, political and religious tracts, nursery rhymes, poetry, folk tales, children's literature and almanacs. Where there were illustrations, they would be popular prints. The term is derived from chapmen, a variety of peddler, who circulated such literature as part of their stock.

* Character

A character is the representation of a person in a narrative or dramatic work of art (such as a novel, play, or film). Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr (χαρακτήρ), the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of "a part played by an actor" developed. Character, particularly when enacted by an actor in the theatre or cinema, involves "the illusion of being a human person." In literature, characters guide readers through their stories, helping them to understand plots and ponder themes. Since the end of the 18th century, the phrase "in character" has been used to describe an effective impersonation by an actor. Since the 19th century, the art of creating characters, as practised by actors or writers, has been called characterisation.

* Characterization

Characterisation or characterization is the process of conveying information about characters in narrative or dramatic works of art or everyday conversation. Characters may be presented by means of description, through their actions, speech, or thoughts.

* Charactonym

A charactonym is a name which suggests the personality traits of a fictional character. In other words; it is the name given to a literary character that especially fits his or her personality.

* Chaucerian stanza

Rhyme royal (or Rime royal) is a rhyming stanza form that was introduced into English poetry by Geoffrey Chaucer.

* Chiasmus

In rhetoric, chiasmus (from the Greek: χιάζω, chiázō, "to shape like the letter Χ") is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism. Chiasmus was particularly popular both in Greek and in Latin literature, where it was used to articulate balance or order within a text. As a popular example, many long and complex chiasmoi have been found in Shakespeare and the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible. It is also used various times in the Book of Mormon.

* Chivalric romance

As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a style of heroic prose and verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about the marvelous adventures of a chivalrous, heroic knight errant, often of super-human ability, who often goes on a quest. Popular literature also drew on themes of romance, but with ironic, satiric or burlesque intent. Romances reworked legends, fairy tales, and history to suit tastes, but by c.1600 they were out of fashion and Miguel de Cervantes famously satirised them in his novel Don Quixote. Still, the modern image of "medieval" is more influenced by the romance than by any other medieval genre, and the standard image of medieval invokes knights, distressed damsels, dragons, and other romantic tropes.

* Choriamb (Choriambus)

In Greek and Latin poetry, choriamb refers to a prosodic foot of four syllables, of the pattern long-short-short-long, i.e. trochees alternating with iambs.

In the prosody of English and other modern European languages, "choriamb" is sometimes used to describe four-syllable sequence of the pattern stressed-unstressed-unstressed-stressed (again, a trochee followed by an iamb): for example, "over the hill", "under the bridge", and "what a mistake!".

* Chorus

A Greek chorus (Greek: χορός, khoros) is an homogenous, non-individualised group of performers in the plays of classical Greece, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action. It numbers twelve or fifteen members in tragedies and twenty-four members in comedies, and performs using several techniques, including singing, dancing, narrating, and acting. In Aeschylus' Agamemnon, the chorus comprises the elderly men of Argos, whereas in Euripides' The Bacchae, they are a group of eastern bacchants, and in Sophocles' Electra, the chorus is made up of the women of Argos.

* Chronicle

Generally a chronicle (Latin: chronica, from Greek χρονικά, from χρόνος, chronos, "time") is a historical account of facts and events ranged in chronological order, as in a time line. Typically, equal weight is given for historically important events and local events, the purpose being the recording of events that occurred, seen from the perspective of the chronicler. This is in contrast to a narrative or history, which sets selected events in a meaningful interpretive context and excludes those the author does not see as important.

* Cinquain

Cinquain (pronounced /ˈsɪŋkeɪn/) is the general term for a class of poetic forms that employ a 5-line pattern. Within the class, there are several forms that are defined by specific rules and guidelines.

* Classicism

Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint and compression we are simply objecting to the classicism of classic art. A violent emphasis or a sudden acceleration of rhythmic movement would have destroyed those qualities of balance and completeness through which it retained until the present century its position of authority in the restricted repertoire of visual images." Classicism, as Clark noted, implies a canon of widely accepted ideal forms, whether in the Western canon that he was examining in The Nude (1956), or the Chinese classics.

* Classification (literature)

Classification is a figure of speech linking a proper noun to a common noun using the or other articles.

* Classification of rhymes (Peter Dale)

An Introduction To Rhyme (ISBN 1-85725-124-5) is a book by Peter Dale which was published by Agenda/Bellew in 1998. The first chapter gives a detailed and comprehensive categorization of forty types of rhyme available in English.

* Clerihew

A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The lines are comically irregular in length, and the rhymes, often contrived, are structured AABB. One of his best known is this (1905):

Sir Christopher Wren
Went to dine with some men
He said, "If anyone calls,
Say I'm designing Saint Paul's."

* Cliché

A cliché or cliche (pronounced UK: /ˈkliːʃeɪ/, US: /klɪˈʃeɪ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. The term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea which is expected or predictable, based on a prior event. Typically a pejorative, "clichés" are not always false or inaccurate; a cliché may or may not be true. Some are stereotypes, but some are simply truisms and facts. Clichés are often for comic effect, typically in fiction.

* Climax

The climax (from the Greek word “κλῖμαξ” (klimax) meaning “staircase” and “ladder”) or turning point of a narrative work is its point of highest tension or drama or when the action starts in which the solution is given.

* Closet drama

A closet drama is a play that is not intended to be performed onstage, but read by a solitary reader or, sometimes, out loud in a small group. A related form, the "closet screenplay," developed during the 20th century.

* Comédie larmoyante

Comédie larmoyante (French: tearful comedy) was a genre of French drama of the 18th century. In this type of sentimental comedy, the impending tragedy was resolved at the end, amid reconciliations and floods of tears. Plays of this genre that ended unhappily nevertheless allowed the audience to see that a "moral triumph" had been earned for the suffering heroes and heroines.

* Colloquialism

A colloquialism is a phrase that is common in everyday, unconstrained conversation, rather than in formal speech, academic writing, or paralinguistics. Dictionaries often display colloquial words and phrases with the abbreviation colloq. as an identifier. Colloquialisms are also sometimes referred to collectively as "colloquial language".

* Comedy

Comedy (from the Greek: κωμῳδία, kōmōidía), as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse generally intended to amuse, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in Ancient Greece. In the Athenian democracy, the public opinion of voters was remarkably influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theaters. The theatrical genre can be simply described as a dramatic performance which pits two societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Northrop Frye famously depicted these two opposing sides as a "Society of Youth" and a "Society of the Old", but this dichotomy is seldom described as an entirely satisfactory explanation. A later view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions that pose obstacles to his hopes; in this sense, the youth is understood to be constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to take recourse to ruses which engender very dramatic irony which provokes laughter.

* Comedy of errors

A comedy of errors is dramatic work (often a play) that is light and often humorous or satirical in tone, in which the action usually features a series of comic instances of mistaken identity, and which typically culminates in a happy resolution of the thematic conflict.

* Comedy of humors

The comedy of humours refers to a genre of dramatic comedy that focuses on a character or range of characters, each of whom has one overriding trait or 'humour' that dominates their personality and conduct. This comic technique may be found in Aristophanes, but the English playwrights Ben Jonson and George Chapman popularized the genre in the closing years of the sixteenth century. In the later half of the seventeenth century, it was combined with the comedy of manners in Restoration comedy.

* Comedy of manners

The comedy of manners is a genre of play/television/film which satiraizes the manners and affectations of a social class, often represented by stock characters, such as the miles gloriosus in ancient times, the fop and the rake during the Restoration, or an old person pretending to be young. The plot of the comedy, often concerned with an illicit love affair or some other scandal, is generally less important than its witty and often bawdy dialogue.

* Comedic relief

Comic relief is the inclusion of a humorous character, scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension.

* Commedia dell'arte

Commedia dell'arte (Italian pronunciation: [komˈmɛːdja delˈlarte]), the closest translation being "comedy of art", (shortened from commedia dell'arte all'improviso, or "comedy through the art of improvisation") is a form of theatre that began in Italy in the year 1560, characterized by masked "types", the advent of the actress and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios.

* Comic relief

Comic relief is the inclusion of a humorous character, scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension.

* Common measure

Common metre or Common measure, abbreviated C. M., is a poetic meter consisting of four lines which alternate between iambic tetrameter (four metrical feet per line, with each foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable) and iambic trimeter (three metrical feet per line, with each foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable), rhyming in the pattern a-b-a-b. It has historically been used for ballads such as Tam Lin, and hymns such as Amazing Grace and the Christmas carol O Little Town of Bethlehem. It has also been used for Advance Australia Fair, the national anthem of Australia.

* Commonplace book

Commonplace books (or commonplaces) were a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. They became significant in Early Modern Europe.

"Commonplace" is a translation of the Latin term locus communis (from Greek tópos koinós, see literary topos) which means "a theme or argument of general application", such as a statement of proverbial wisdom. In this original sense, commonplace books were collections of such sayings, such as John Milton's commonplace book. Scholars have expanded this usage to include any manuscript that collects material along a common theme by an individual.

* Comparative linguistics

Comparative linguistics (originally comparative philology) is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical relatedness.

Genetic relatedness implies a common origin or proto-language, and comparative linguistics aims to construct language families, to reconstruct proto-languages and specify the changes that have resulted in the documented languages. To maintain a clear distinction between attested and reconstructed forms, comparative linguists prefix an asterisk to any form that is not found in surviving texts. A number of methods for carrying out language classification have been developed, ranging from simple inspection to computerised hypothesis testing. Such methods have gone through a long process of development.

* Complaint

A complaint, in legal terminology, is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons (see: cause of action) that the filing party or parties (the plaintiff(s)) believes are sufficient to support a claim against the party or parties against whom the claim is brought (the defendant(s)) that entitles the plaintiff(s) to a remedy (either money damages or injunctive relief). For example, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that govern civil litigation in United States courts provide that a civil action is commenced with the filing or service of a pleading called a complaint. Civil court rules in states that have incorporated the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure use the same term for the same pleading.

* Conceit

In literature, a conceit is an extended metaphor with a complex logic that governs a poetic passage or entire poem. By juxtaposing, usurping and manipulating images and ideas in surprising ways, a conceit invites the reader into a more sophisticated understanding of an object of comparison. Extended conceits in English are part of the poetic idiom of Mannerism, during the later sixteenth and early seventeenth century.

* Concordance

A concordance is an alphabetical list of the principal words used in a book or body of work, with their immediate contexts. Because of the time and difficulty and expense involved in creating a concordance in the pre-computer era, only works of special importance, such as the Vedas , Bible, Qur'an or the works of Shakespeare, had concordances prepared for them.

* Confessional literature

In literature, confessional writing is a first-person style that is often presented as an ongoing diary or letters, distinguished by revelations of a person's heart and darker motivations.

Originally, the term derived from confession: the writer is not only autobiographically recounting his life, but confessing to his sins. Among the earliest examples is St Augustine's Confessions, perhaps the first autobiography of Western Europe. In it, he not only recounted the events of his life, he wrestled with their meaning and significiance, as in a passage where he tried to fathom why he had stolen pears with friends, not to eat but to throw away.

* Confidant/confidante

In media, the confidant (pronounced /ˈkɒnfɪdænt/ or /ˌkɒnfɪˈdɑːnt/; feminine: confidante, same pronunciation) character is usually someone the lead character confides in and trusts. Typically, these consist of the best friend, relative, doctor or boss. The confidant character is most common in romantic comedy films but often appears in other genres.

* Conflict

Conflict is a necessary element of fictional literature. It is defined as the problem in any piece of literature and is often classified according to the nature of the protagonist or antagonist.

Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, literary critic and author, was first to classify plots as seven basic conflicts: Man against Man, Man against Nature, Man against Himself, Man against God, Man against Society, Man caught in the Middle, Man & Woman.

* Connotation

Connotation is a subjective cultural and/or emotional coloration in addition to the explicit or denotative meaning of any specific word or phrase in a language, i.e. emotional association with a word. A connotation is frequently described as negative or positive.

* Consistency

In logic, a consistent theory is one that does not contain a contradiction. The lack of contradiction can be defined in either semantic or syntactic terms. The semantic definition states that a theory is consistent if it has a model; this is the sense used in traditional Aristotelian logic, although in contemporary mathematical logic the term satisfiable is used instead. The syntactic definition states that a theory is consistent if there is no formula P such that both P and its negation are provable from the axioms of the theory under its associated deductive system.

* Consonance

Consonance is a stylistic device, most commonly used in poetry and songs, characterized by the repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short succession, as in "pitt patter" or in "all mammals named Sam are clammy".

Consonance should not be confused with assonance, which is the repetition of vowel sounds. Alliteration is a special case of consonance where the repeated consonant sound is at the beginning of each word, as in "few flocked to the fight". Alliteration is usually distinguished from other types of consonance in poetic analysis, and has different uses and effects.

* Contradiction

In classical logic, a contradiction consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other. Illustrating a general tendency in applied logic, Aristotle’s law of noncontradiction states that “One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.”

* Context

Context is a notion used in the language sciences (linguistics, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, pragmatics, semiotics, etc.) in two different ways, namely as

- verbal context
- social context

* Contrast

In literature, an author writes contrast when he or she describes the difference(s) between two or more entities. For example, in the first four lines of William Shakespeare's Sonnet 130, Shakespeare contrasts a mistress to the sun, coral, snow, and wire.

* Convention

A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms or criteria, often taking the form of a custom.

Certain types of rules or customs may become law and regulatory legislation may be introduced to formalize or enforce the convention (e.g., laws that define on which side of the road vehicles must be driven). In a social context, a convention may retain the character of an "unwritten" law of custom (e.g., the manner in which people greet each other, such as by shaking each other's hands).

* Copyright

Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by the law of a jurisdiction to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. Exceptions and limitations to these rights strive to balance the public interest in the wide distribution of the material produced and to encourage creativity. Exceptions include fair dealing and fair use, and such use does not require the permission of the copyright owner. All other uses require permission and copyright owners can license or permanently transfer or assign their exclusive rights to others.

* Counterplot

A subplot is a secondary plot strand that is a supporting side story for any story or the main plot. Subplots may connect to main plots, in either time and place or in thematic significance. Subplots often involve supporting characters, those besides the protagonist or antagonist.

* Coup de théâtre

1. A sudden or unexpected event in a play, pulled off by the author, the director, or even an actor.
2. A theatrical trick or gesture, something staged for dramatic effect.

* Couplet

A couplet is a pair of lines of meter in poetry. It usually consists of two lines that rhyme and have the same meter. While traditionally couplets rhyme, not all do. A poem may use white space to mark out couplets if they do not rhyme. Couplets with a meter of iambic pentameter are called heroic couplets. The Poetic epigram is also in the couplet form. Couplets can also appear in more complex rhyme schemes. For example, Shakespearean sonnets end with a couplet.

* Courtesy book

A Courtesy book or Book of Manners was a book dealing with issues of etiquette, behaviour and morals, with a particular focus on the life at princely courts. Courtesy literature can be traced back to 13th Century German and Italian writers.

* Courtly love

Courtly love was a medieval European conception of nobly and chivalrously expressing love and admiration. Generally, courtly love was secret and between members of the nobility. It was also generally not practiced between husband and wife.

* Cradle books

Incunable, or sometimes incunabulum (plural incunables or incunabula, respectively) is a book, pamphlet, or broadside, that was printed — not handwritten — before the year 1501 in Europe. "Incunable" is the anglicised singular form of "incunabula", Latin for "swaddling clothes" or "cradle" which can refer to "the earliest stages or first traces in the development of anything." A former term for "incunable" is "fifteener," referring to the fifteenth century.

* Crisis

A crisis (plural: "crises"; adjectival form: "critical") (from the Greek κρίσις, krisis) is any unstable and dangerous social situation regarding economic, military, personal, political, or societal affairs, especially one involving an impending abrupt change. More loosely, it is a term meaning 'a testing time' or 'emergency event'.

* Criticism

Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals. Though the two activities are closely related, literary critics are not always, and have not always been, theorists.

* Cross acrostic

An acrostic (Greek: ákros "top"; stíchos "verse") is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message. As a form of constrained writing, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval. A famous acrostic was made in Greek for the acclamation JESUS CHRIST, GOD'S SON, SAVIOUR (Greek: Ιησούς Χριστός, Θεού Υιός, Σωτήρ; Iesous CHristos, THeou Yios, Soter — ch and th being each one letter in Greek). The initials spell ICHTHYS (ΙΧΘΥΣ), Greek for fish – hence the frequent use of the fish as a symbol for Jesus Christ from the early days of Christianity to the present time.

* Crown of sonnets

A crown of sonnets or sonnet corona is a sequence of sonnets, usually addressed to some one person, and/or concerned with a single theme.

Each of the sonnets explores one aspect of the theme, and is linked to the preceding and succeeding sonnets by repeating the final line of the preceding sonnet as its first line, and by having its final line be the first line of the succeeding sonnet.

* Curtain raiser

A curtain raiser is a performance, stage act, show, actor or performer that opens a show for the main attraction. The term is derived from the act of raising the stage curtain. The first person on stage has "raised the curtain".

* Curtal sonnet

The curtal sonnet is a form invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and used in three of his poems.

It is an eleven-line (or, more accurately, ten-and-a-half-line) sonnet, but rather than the first eleven lines of a standard sonnet it consists of precisely ¾ of the structure of a Petrarchan sonnet shrunk proportionally. The octave of a sonnet becomes a sestet and the sestet a quatrain plus an additional "tail piece." That is, the first eight lines of a sonnet are translated into the first six lines of a curtal sonnet and the last six lines of a sonnet are translated into the last four and a half lines of a curtal sonnet. Hopkins describes the last line as half a line, though in fact it can be shorter than half of one of Hopkins's standard sprung rhythm lines. In the preface to his Poems (1876-89), Hopkins describes the relationship between the Petrarchan and curtal sonnets mathematically; if the Petrarchan sonnet can be described by the equation 8+6=14.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W








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Published - February 2011







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