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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

* Tautology (rhetoric)

Tautology [from Greek , 'tauto': the same, and 'logos': word/idea] is an unnecessary or unessential (and sometimes unintentional) repetition of meaning, using different and dissimilar words that effectively say the same thing (often originally from different languages). It is often regarded as a fault of style and was defined by Fowler as "saying the same thing twice." It is not apparently necessary or essential for the entire meaning of a phrase to be repeated. If a part of the meaning is repeated in such a way that it appears as unintentional, or clumsy, then it may be described as tautology. On the other hand, a repetition of meaning which improves the style of a piece of speech or writing is not necessarily described as tautology.

A rhetorical tautology can also be defined as a series of statements that comprise an argument, whereby the statements are constructed in such a way that the truth of the proposition is guaranteed or that the truth of the proposition cannot be disputed by defining a term in terms of another self-referentially. Consequently, the statement conveys no useful information regardless of its length or complexity making it unfalsifiable. It is a way of formulating a description such that it masquerades as an explanation when the real reason for the phenomena cannot be independently derived. A rhetorical tautology should not be confused with a tautology in propositional logic, since the inherent meanings and subsequent conclusions in rhetorical and logical tautologies are very different.

* Tableau vivant

Tableau vivant (plural: tableaux vivants) is French for "living picture." The term describes a striking group of suitably costumed actors or artist's models, carefully posed and often theatrically lit. Throughout the duration of the display, the people shown do not speak or move. The approach thus marries the art forms of the stage with those of painting/photography, and as such it has been of interest to modern photographers. The most recent hey-day of the tableau vivant was the 19th century with virtually nude tableaux vivants or "poses plastiques" providing a form of erotic entertainment.

Occasionally, a Mass was punctuated by short dramatic scenes and tableaux. They were a major feature of festivities for royal weddings, coronations and Royal entries into cities. Often the actors imitated statues, much in the way of modern street entertainers, but in larger groups, and mounted on elaborate temporary stands along the path of the main procession.

* Tagelied

The Tagelied (dawn song) is a particular form of mediaeval German language lyric, taken and adapted from the Provençal troubadour tradition (in which it was known as the alba) by the German Minnesinger. Often in three verses, it depicts the separation of two lovers at the break of day.

An especially popular version of the Tagelied was the Wächterlied, or watchman's song, in which a trusted watchman warns the knight to depart. This form was introduced into German use by Wolfram von Eschenbach. The form was popular in German-speaking regions from the 13th to the 16th centuries.

The form of the Wechsel (alternating verses by the knight and the lady, but not addressed directly to each other, so not quite a dialogue as now understood) was introduced by Dietmar von Aist and Heinrich von Morungen. The tagelied's form and prosody varies over time and with individual poet. The tagelied does not even consistently use refrains. However, the subject matter of the song made it a very popular one, and the form's conventions showed up in other lyric poetry and dramatic poetry.

Important motifs of the Tagelied are the depiction of daybreak, the warning to depart, the lament at parting and the lady's final permission to the knight to go (the urloup). Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, V iii, shows the influence of the dawn song as well, as the two lovers argue over the dawn and the need for departure.

Particular exponents of the genre were among others Heinrich von Morungen, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Walther von der Vogelweide and later Oswald von Wolkenstein. Modern poets who have drawn on the tradition of the Tagelied include Rainer Maria Rilke, Ezra Pound and Peter Rühmkorf.

* Tale

Tale may refer to:

  • Cautionary tale, a traditional story told in folklore, to warn its hearer of a danger
  • Fairy tale, a fictional story that usually features folkloric characters (such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, witches, giants, and talking animals) and enchantments
  • Folk tale, a story passed-down within a particular population, which comprises the traditions of that culture or group.
  • Fable, a brief story, which illustrates a moral lesson and which features animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature which are anthropomorphised
  • Frame tale, whereby the main story is composed, at least in part, for the purpose of organizing a set of shorter stories.
  • Urban legend, a modern folk tale consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them
  • Old wives' tale, a wisdom much like an urban legend, supposedly passed down by old wives to a younger generation
  • Tall tale, a story that claims to explain the reason for some natural phenomenon

* Techne

Techne, or techné, as distinguished from episteme, is etymologically derived from the Greek word τέχνη which is often translated as craftsmanship, craft, or art. It is the rational method involved in producing an object or accomplishing a goal or objective. Techne resembles episteme in the implication of knowledge of principles, although techne differs in that its intent is making or doing, as opposed to "disinterested understanding."

As one observer has argued, techne "was not concerned with the necessity and eternal a priori truths of the cosmos, nor with the a posteriori contingencies and exigencies of ethics and politics. Moreover, this was a kind of knowledge associated with people who were bound to necessity. That is, techne was chiefly operative in the domestic sphere, in farming and slavery, and not in the free realm of the Greek polis."

Aristotle saw it as representative of the imperfection of human imitation of nature. For the ancient Greeks, it signified all the Mechanical Arts including medicine and music. The English aphorism, ‘gentlemen don’t work with their hands,’ is said to have originated in ancient Greece in relation to their cynical view on the arts. Due to this view, it was only fitted for the lower class while the upper class practiced the Liberal Arts of ‘free’ men (Dorter 1973).

Socrates also compliments techne only when it was used in the context of episteme. Episteme sometimes means knowing how to do something in a craft-like way. The craft-like knowledge is called a ‘technê.' It is most useful when the knowledge is practically applied, rather than theoretically or aesthetically applied. For the ancient Greeks, when techne appears as art, it is most often viewed negatively, whereas when used as a craft it is viewed positively: because a craft is the practical application of an art, rather than art as an end in itself. In The Republic, written by Plato, the knowledge of forms "is the indispensable basis for the philosophers' craft of ruling in the city" (Stanford 2003).

Techne is often used in philosophical discourse to distinguish from art (or poiesis). This use of the word also occurs in The Digital Humanities to differentiate between linear narrative presentation of knowledge and dynamic presentation of knowledge, wherein techne represents the former and poiesis represents the latter.

* Tenor

The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C (A4) in choral music, and up to high C (C5) in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B♭2 (two B♭s below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to two Fs above middle C (F5).

The term tenor is also applied to instruments, such as the tenor saxophone, to indicate their range in relation to other instruments of the same group.

Within opera, the lowest note in the standard tenor repertoire is A2 (Mime, Herod), but few roles fall below C3 (one octave below middle C). The high extreme: a few tenor roles in the standard repertoire call for a "tenor C" (C5, one octave above middle C). Most (if not all) of the few top Cs in the standard operatic repertoire are either optional (such as in Che gelida manina in Puccini's La Boheme) or interpolated (added) by tradition (such as in Di quella pira from Verdi's Il Trovatore). Some operatic roles for tenor require a darker timbre and fewer high notes. In the leggiero repertoire the highest note is an F5 (Arturo in I puritani), therefore, very few tenors can have this role in their repertoire. A shift in pitch since the mid 19th century means that the few written top Cs (such as in Salut demeure from Gounod's Faust) would have in fact demanded a note at least a semitone lower than today's standard pitch.

Within musical theatre, most tenor roles are written between B♭2 and A♭4, especially the romantic leads, although some fall as low as A♭2 and others as high as G5.

* Tension - Suspense

Suspense is a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety about the outcome of certain actions, most often referring to an audience's perceptions in a dramatic work. Suspense is not exclusive to fiction, though. Suspense may operate in any situation where there is a lead up to a big event or dramatic moment, with tension being a primary emotion felt as part of the situation. In the kind of suspense described by film director Alfred Hitchcock, an audience experiences suspense when they expect something bad to happen and have (or believe they have) a superior perspective on events in the drama's hierarchy of knowledge, yet they are powerless to intervene to prevent it from happening. In broader definitions of suspense, this emotion arises when someone is aware of his lack of knowledge about the development of a meaningful event; thus, suspense is a combination of anticipation and uncertainty dealing with the obscurity of the future. In terms of narrative expectations, it may be contrasted with mystery or curiosity and surprise. Suspense could however be some small event in a person's life, such as a child anticipating an answer to a request they've made, e.g., "May I get the kitty?". Therefore, suspense comes in many different sizes, big and small.

* Tercet

A tercet is composed of three lines of poetry, forming a stanza or a complete poem. English-language haiku is an example of an unrhymed tercet poem. A poetic triplet is a tercet in which all three lines follow the same rhyme, a a a; triplets are rather rare; they are more customarily used sparingly in verse of heroic couplets or other couplet verse, to add extraordinary emphasis.

Other types of tercet include an enclosed tercet where the lines rhyme in an a b a pattern and terza rima where the a b a pattern of a verse is continued in the next verse by making the outer lines of the next stanza rhyme with the central line of the preceding stanza, b c b, as in the terza rima or terzina form of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. There has been much investigation of the possible sources of the Dantesque terzina, which Benedetto Croce characterised as "linked, enclosed, disciplined, vehement and yet calm." William Baer observes of the tercets of terza rima, "These interlocking rhymes tend to pull the listener's attention forward in a continuous flow.... Given this natural tendency to glide forward, terza rima is especially well-suited to narration and description".

The tercet also forms part of the villanelle, where the initial five stanzas are tercets, followed by a concluding quatrain.

A tercet may also form the separate halves of the ending sestet in a Petrarchan sonnet, where the rhyme scheme is abbaabba cdccdc, as in Longfellow's "Cross of Snow." For example, while "Cross of Snow" is indeed a Petrarchan sonnet, it does not follow the form of abbabba cdcdc. Instead, its form is abba cddc efg efg. A tercet also ends sestinas where the keywords of the lines before are repeated in a highly ordered form.

The tercet was introduced into English poetry by Sir Thomas Wyatt in the 16th century. It was employed by Shelley and is the form used in Byron's The Prophecy of Dante.

* Terza rima

Terza rima is a rhyming verse stanza form that consists of an interlocking three-line rhyme scheme. It was first used by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri.

Terza rima is a three-line stanza using chain rhyme in the pattern A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, D-E-D. There is no limit to the number of lines, but poems or sections of poems written in terza rima end with either a single line or couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final tercet. The two possible endings for the example above are d-e-d, e or d-e-d, e-e. There is no set rhythm for terza rima, but in English, iambic pentameter is generally preferred.

* Tetrameter

In poetry, a tetrameter is a line of four metrical feet. The particular foot, of course, can vary, as follows:

Anapestic tetrameter:

  • "And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea" (Byron, "The Destruction of Sennacherib")
  • Iambic tetrameter:

  • "Because I could not stop for Death" (Emily Dickinson)
  • Trochaic tetrameter:

  • "Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater" (English nursery rhyme)
  • Dactylic tetrameter:

  • Picture your self in a boat on a river with [...] (The Beatles, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"),
  • * Text (literary theory)

    A text, within literary theory, is a coherent set of symbols that transmits some kind of informative message.[citation needed] This set of symbols is considered in terms of the informative message's content, rather than in terms of its physical form or the medium in which it is represented. Within the field of literary criticism, "text" refers to the original information content of a particular piece of writing; that is, the "text" of a work is that primal symbolic arrangement of letters as originally composed, apart from later alterations, deterioration, commentary, translations, paratext, etc. Therefore, when literary criticism is concerned with the determination of a "text," it is concerned with the distinguishing of the original information content from whatever has been added to or subtracted from that content as it appears in a given textual document (that is, a physical representation of text).

    * Textual criticism

    Textual criticism (or lower criticism) is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts. Ancient scribes made errors or alterations when copying manuscripts by hand. Given a manuscript copy, several or many copies, but not the original document, the textual critic seeks to reconstruct the original text (the archetype or autograph) as closely as possible. The same processes can be used to attempt to reconstruct intermediate editions, or recensions, of a document's transcription history. The ultimate objective of the textual critic's work is the production of a "critical edition" containing a text most closely approximating the original.

    There are three fundamental approaches to textual criticism: eclecticism, stemmatics, and copy-text editing. Techniques from the biological discipline of cladistics are currently also being used to determine the relationships between manuscripts.

    The phrase lower criticism is used to describe the contrast between textual criticism and "higher" criticism, which is the endeavor to establish the authorship, date, and place of composition of the original text.

    * Textuality

    Textuality is a concept in linguistics and literary theory that refers to the attributes that distinguish the text (a technical term indicating any communicative content under analysis) as an object of study in those fields. It is associated in both fields with structuralism and post-structuralism.

    The word "text" arose within structuralism as a replacement for the older idea in literary criticism of the "work," which is always complete and deliberately authored. A text must necessarily be thought of as incomplete, indeed as missing something crucial that provides the mechanics of understanding. The text is always partially hidden; one word for the hidden part in literary theory is the "subtext."

    The concept of the text in structuralism requires a relatively simple relationship between language and writing. Jacques Derrida, a leading post-structuralist, questions this relationship, aiming his critique primarily at Ferdinand de Saussure, who, he claims, does not recognize in the relationship between speech and writing "more than a narrow and derivative function."[3] For Derrida, this approach requires putting too much emphasis on speech:

    Saussure confronts the system of the spoken language with the system of phonetic (and even alphabetic) writing as though with the telos of writing. This teleology leads to the interpretation of all eruptions of the nonphonetic within writing as transitory crisis and accident of passage, and it is right to consider this teleology to be a Western ethnocentrism, a premathematical primitivism, and a preformalist intuitionism.

    * Texture - Structure

    Structure is a fundamental, if intangible, notion referring to the recognition, observation, nature, and stability of patterns and relationships of entities. From a child's verbal description of a snowflake, to the detailed scientific analysis of the properties of magnetic fields, the concept of structure is now often an essential foundation of nearly every mode of inquiry and discovery in science, philosophy, and art. In early 20th-century and earlier thought, form often plays a role comparable to that of structure in contemporary thought. The neo-Kantianism of Ernst Cassirer (cf. his Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, completed in 1929 and published in English translation in the 1950s) is sometimes regarded as a precursor of the later shift to structuralism and poststructuralism.

    * Theatre of Cruelty

    The Theatre of Cruelty (French: Théâtre de la Cruauté) is a surrealist form of theatre theorised by Antonin Artaud in his book The Theatre and its Double. "Without an element of cruelty at the root of every spectacle," he writes, "the theatre is not possible. In our present state of degeneration it is through the skin that metaphysics must be made to re-enter our minds." By "cruelty," Artaud referred not to sadism or causing pain, but rather a violent, austere, physical determination to shatter the false reality that, he wrote, "lies like a shroud over our perceptions."

    * Theatre of the Absurd

    The Theatre of the Absurd (French: Théâtre de l'Absurde) is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work. Their work expressed the belief that, in a godless universe, human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence. Critic Martin Esslin coined the term "Theatre of the Absurd", relating these plays based on a broad theme of absurdity, roughly similar to the way Albert Camus uses the term. The Absurd in these plays takes the form of man’s reaction to a world apparently without meaning or man as a puppet controlled or menaced by an invisible outside force. Though the term is applied to a wide range of plays, some characteristics coincide in many of the plays: broad comedy, often similar to Vaudeville, mixed with horrific or tragic images; characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots that are cyclical or absurdly expansive; either a parody or dismissal of realism and the concept of the "well-made play". Playwrights commonly associated with the Theatre of the Absurd include Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Fernando Arrabal, and Edward Albee.

    * Theme (literature)

    A theme is a main idea, moral, or message, of an essay, paragraph, movie, book or video game. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly. Along with plot, character, setting, and style, theme is considered one of the fundamental components of fiction.

    * Thesis

    A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings. In some countries/universities, the word thesis or a cognate is used as part of a bachelor's or master's course, while dissertation is normally applied to a doctorate, whilst, in others, the reverse is true.

    The term dissertation can at times be used to describe a treatise without relation to obtaining an academic degree. The term thesis is also used to refer to the central claim of an essay or similar work.

    * Third person narrative - Narrative mode

    The narrative mode (also known as the mode of narration) is the set of methods the author of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical story uses to convey the plot to the audience. Narration, the process of presenting the narrative, occurs because of the narrative mode. It encompasses several overlapping areas of concern, most importantly narrative point-of-view, which determines through whose perspective the story is viewed; narrative voice, which determines the manner through which the story is communicated to the author to be the same person. However, the narrator may be a fictive person devised by the author as a stand-alone entity, or even a character. The narrator is considered participant if an actual character in the story, and nonparticipant if only an implied character, or a sort of omniscient or semi-omniscient being who does not take part in the story but only relates it to the audience.

    * Threnody

    A threnody is a song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word threnoidia, from threnos ( "wailing") + oide ("ode"); ultimately, from the Proto-Indo-European root wed- ("to speak") that is also the precursor of such words as "ode", "tragedy", "comedy", "parody", "melody" and "rhapsody".

    Synonyms include "dirge", "coronach", "lament" and "elegy". The Epitaphios Threnos is the lamentation chanted in the Eastern Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday. John Dryden commemorated the death of Charles II of England in the long poem Threnodia Augustalis, and Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a "Threnody" in memory of his son.

    * Tantrum

    A tantrum is an emotional outburst, usually associated with children or those in emotional distress, that is typically characterized by stubbornness, crying, screaming, defiance, angry ranting, a resistance to attempts at pacification and, at some cases, hitting. Physical control may be lost, the person may be unable to remain still, and even if the "goal" of the person is met he or she may not be calmed.

    A tantrum may be expressed in a tirade: a protracted, angry, or violent speech.

    Tantrums are one of the most common forms of problematic behaviour in young children but tend to decrease in frequency and intensity as the child grows older. They may, however, be a predictor of future anti-social behaviour.

    Some people who have neurological disorders such as the combination of autism and/or mental retardation could be more prone to tantrums than others, although anyone experiencing forebrain damage (temporary or permanent) can suffer from tantrums. Anyone may be prone to tantrums once in a while, regardless of gender or age.

    * Tone (literature)

    Tone is a literary technique that is a part of composition, which encompasses the attitudes toward the subject and toward the audience implied in a literary work. Tone may be formal, informal, intimate, solemn, somber, playful, serious, ironic, condescending, or many other possible attitudes. Tone and mood are not interchangeable.

    Under the element of cadence, the tone of a piece of work can be found in many ways. All pieces of literature, even official documents, have some sort of tone.

    In many cases, the tone of a piece of work may change or evolve. Elements of tone include diction, or word choice; syntax, the grammatical arrangement of words in a text for effect; imagery, or vivid appeals to the senses; details, facts that are included or omitted; extended metaphor, language that compares seemingly unrelated things throughout the composition.

    Tone is an element used frequently in poetry to convey feeling and emotion, and set the mood for the work. It is important to note that tone and mood are not interchangeable.

    * Tract (literature)

    A tract is a literary work, and in current usage, usually religious in nature. The notion of what constitutes a tract has changed over time. By the early part of the 21st century, these meant small pamphlets used for religious and political purposes, though far more often the former. They are often either left for someone to find or handed out. However, there have been times in history when the term implied tome-like works.

    * Tractarian Movement - Oxford Movement

    The Oxford Movement was a movement of High Church Anglicans, eventually developing into Anglo-Catholicism. The movement, whose members were often associated with the University of Oxford, argued for the reinstatement of lost Christian traditions of faith and their inclusion into Anglican liturgy and theology. They conceived of the Anglican Church as one of three branches of the Catholic Church.

    * Tragedy

    Tragedy (Ancient Greek: τραγῳδία, tragōidia, etymology uncertain. previous idea: "he-goat-song", but this theory has been refuted by Walter Burkert) is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of Western civilization. That tradition has been multiple and discontinuous, yet the term has often been used to invoke a powerful effect of cultural identity and historical continuity—"the Greeks and the Elizabethans, in one cultural form; Hellenes and Christians, in a common activity," as Williams puts it. From its obscure origins in the theatres of Athens 2500 years ago, from which there survives only a fraction of the work of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, through its singular articulations in the works of Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Racine, or Schiller, to the more recent naturalistic tragedy of Strindberg, Beckett's modernist meditations on death, loss and suffering, or Müller's postmodernist reworkings of the tragic canon, tragedy has remained an important site of cultural experimentation, negotiation, struggle, and change. A long line of philosophers—which includes Plato, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Voltaire, Hume, Diderot, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Camus, Lacan and Deleuze—have analysed, speculated upon and criticised the tragic form. In the wake of Aristotle's Poetics (335 BCE), tragedy has been used to make genre distinctions, whether at the scale of poetry in general, where the tragic divides against epic and lyric, or at the scale of the drama, where tragedy is opposed to comedy. In the modern era, tragedy has also been defined against drama, melodrama, the tragicomic and epic theatre.

    * Tragic flaw - Hamartia

    Hamartia (Ancient Greek: ἁμαρτία) is a term developed by Aristotle in his work Poetics. The term can simply be seen as a character’s flaw or error. In Greek dramaturgy, hamartia is the tragic flaw of the protagonist in a given tragedy. The word hamartia is rooted in the notion of missing the mark (hamartanein) and covers a broad spectrum that includes accident and mistake, as well as wrongdoing, error, or sin. In Nicomachean Ethics, hamartia is described by Aristotle as one of the three kinds of injuries that a person can commit against another person. Hamartia is an injury committed in ignorance (when the person affected or the results are not what the agent supposed they were).

    * Tragic hero

    A tragic hero is usually the main character in a piece of work. The 'tragic hero' will always be a hero at the beginning of the story, therefore having the qualities as follows:

    High Status, Courage, Warrior, Loyal, Dutiful, Self-sacrificial.

    As the story goes on the 'tragic hero' will slowly begin to be disliked, normally due to their tragic flaw. In Shakespeare's Macbeth's case, Macbeth's tragic flaw is his "vaulting ambition", causing him to have the over-ambition to become king and kill the king as the Third Witch states in Act 1, Scene 3. So in the end the 'tragic hero' will always be killed due to the hate of others.

    The idea that this be a balance of crime and punishment is incorrectly ascribed to Aristotle, who is quite clear in his pronouncement that the hero's misfortune is not brought about "by vice and depravity but by some error of judgment." In fact, in Aristotle's Poetics it is imperative that the tragic hero be noble. Later tragedians deviated from this tradition: the more prone the tragic hero was to vice, the less noble and the less tragic, in the Aristotelian sense of the word, the tragic hero happened to be.

    Tragic heroes appear in the dramatic works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Webster, Marston, Corneille, Racine, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Strindberg, and many other writers.

    * Tragic irony - Irony

    Tragic irony is a special category of dramatic irony. In tragic irony, the words and actions of the characters contradict the real situation, which the spectators fully realize.

    Ancient Greek drama was especially characterized by tragic irony because the audiences were so familiar with the legends that most of the plays dramatized. Sophocles' Oedipus the King provides a classic example of tragic irony at its fullest.

    Irony has some of its foundation in the onlooker’s perception of paradox that arises from insoluble problems. For example, in the William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo finds Juliet in a drugged death-like sleep, he assumes her to be dead and kills himself. Upon awakening to find her dead lover beside her, Juliet stabs herself with a dagger thus killing herself.

    * Tragicomedy

    Tragicomedy is fictional work that blends aspects of the genres of tragedy and comedy. In English literature, from Shakespeare's time to the nineteenth century, tragicomedy referred to a serious play with either a happy ending or enough jokes throughout the play to lighten the mood.

    * Tranche de vie - Slice of life

    Slice of life is a theatrical term that refers to a naturalistic representation of real life, sometimes used as an adjective, as in "a play with 'slice of life' dialogue." The term originated in 1890–95 as a translation from the French phrase tranche de vie, credited to the French playwright Jean Jullien (1854–1919).

    * Transcendentalism

    Transcendentalism is a group of new ideas in literature and philosophy that emerged in New England in the early-to-middle 19th century. It is sometimes called American Transcendentalism to distinguish it from other uses of the word transcendental. The movement developed in the 1830s and 40s as a protest against the general state of culture and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard University and the doctrine of the Unitarian church taught at Harvard Divinity School[citation needed]. Among transcendentalists' core beliefs was the belief in an ideal spiritual state that "transcends" the physical and empirical and is realized only through the individual's intuition, rather than through the doctrines of established religions. The major figures in the movement were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Margaret Fuller, and Amos Bronson Alcott. Other prominent transcendentalists included Cyrus Bartol, Charles Timothy Brooks, Orestes Brownson, William Ellery Channing, William Henry Channing, James Freeman Clarke, Christopher Pearse Cranch, John Sullivan Dwight, Convers Francis, William Henry Furness, Frederic Henry Hedge, Sylvester Judd, Theodore Parker, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, George Ripley, and Jones Very.

    * Transferred epithet - Hypallage

    Hypallage (pronounced /haɪˈpælədʒiː/, from the Greek: ὑπαλλαγή, hypallagḗ, "interchange, exchange") is a literary device that is the reversal of the syntactic relation of two words (as in "her beauty's face").

    One kind of hypallage, also known as a transferred epithet, is the trope or rhetorical device in which a modifier, usually an adjective, is applied to the "wrong" word in the sentence. The word whose modifier is thus displaced can either be actually present in the sentence, or it can be implied logically. The effect often stresses the emotions or feelings of the individual by expanding them on to the environment.

    * Transition (fiction)

    Transitions in fiction are words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or punctuation that may be used to signal various changes in a story, including changes in time, location, point-of-view character, mood, tone, emotion, and pace. Transitions are sometimes listed as one of various fiction-writing modes. The importance of transitions in fiction is widely accepted, but the effective presentation of transitions is subject to numerous variables and issues.

    Transitions provide for a seamless narrative flow as a story shifts in time, location, or point-of view. They aid the internal logic of a story by moving readers from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, idea to idea, scene to scene, and chapter to chapter with grace and ease..

    Transitions in fiction may take any of several forms, including chapter breaks, section breaks, and summarization.

    * Translation

    Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (ca. 2000 BCE) into Southwest Asian languages of the second millennium BCE.

    Translators always risk inappropriate spill-over of source-language idiom and usage into the target-language translation. On the other hand, spill-overs have imported useful source-language calques and loanwords that have enriched the target languages. Indeed, translators have helped substantially to shape the languages into which they have translated.

    Due to the demands of business documentation consequent to the Industrial Revolution that began in the mid-18th century, some translation specialties have become formalized, with dedicated schools and professional associations.

    Because of the laboriousness of translation, since the 1940s engineers have sought to automate translation (machine translation) or to mechanically aid the human translator (computer-assisted translation). The rise of the Internet has fostered a world-wide market for translation services and has facilitated language localization.

    * Travesty

    - Travesti, transgendered men in South America
    - Travesti (theatre), about men and women playing the opposite sex in Western opera, ballet and theatre

    * Triad

    A triad in simplest terms is defined as a "group of three".

    Triad may refer to: Television, film, music, and literature.


  • Triad (music), three-note chord consisting of a "root" note together with the third and fifth above it
  • Triad (album), 1976 album by Spontaneous Combustion
  • "Triad" (Pitchshifter song), song by Industrial metal band Pitchshifter from their 1993 album Desensitized
  • "Triad" (David Crosby song), 1967 song about a ménage à trois
  • "Triad", song by progressive rock band Tool from their 2001 album Lateralus
  • Television

  • The Triad (Charmed), group of three powerful demons who are the opposites of the Charmed One's in the sense of good and evil in the television series Charmed
  • Triiad, alien species from the television series Hypernauts
  • Other

  • Welsh Triads, collections of medieval Welsh legend and history
  • Triads of Ireland, triplet proverbs and aphorisms
  • Triad (superhero), alias of fictional DC Comics super hero Triplicate Girl
  • Triads, Yardies and Onion Bhajees, 2003 British film directed by Sarjit Bains
  • * Tribe of Ben - Sons of Ben (literary group)

    The phrase Sons of Ben is a mildly problematic term applied to followers of Ben Jonson in English poetry and drama in the first half of the seventeenth century.

    Sons of Ben has been applied to the dramatists who were overtly and admittedly influenced by Jonson's drama, his most distinctive artistic achievement. Joe Lee Davis listed eleven playwrights in this group: Richard Brome, Thomas Nabbes, Henry Glapthorne, Thomas Killigrew, Sir William Davenant, William Cartwright, Shackerley Marmion, Jasper Mayne, Peter Hausted, Thomas Randolph, and William Cavendish.

    * Tribrach (poetry)

    A tribrach is a metrical foot used in formal poetry and Greek and Latin verse. In quantitative meter (such as the meter of classical verse), it consists of three short syllables; in accentual-syllabic verse (such as formal English verse), the tribrach consists of three unstressed syllables. According to some sources, another name for this meter is choree, from the Greek choreus. Other sources categorize the choree as a metrical foot containing two unstressed syllables, or one accented followed by one unaccented foot.

    The existence of the tribrach has been contested by some writers and its entry in the Oxford English Dictionary under 'Poetry Terms' lacks a formal definition, but does appear, primarily as a musical form, in some American dictionaries, such as Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary. Its appearance in English poetry is rare, as it tends to resolve into two disyllabic feet, depending upon the feet that surround it.

    * Trimeter

    In poetry, a trimeter is a metre of three metrical feet per line—example:

    When here // the spring // we see,
    Fresh green // upon // the tree.

    * Triolet

    A triolet is a one stanza poem of eight lines. Its rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB and often all lines are in iambic tetrameter: the first, fourth and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines, thereby making the initial and final couplets identical as well.

    * Triple metre

    Triple metre (or triple meter, also known as triple time) is a musical metre characterized by a primary division of 3 beats to the bar, usually indicated by 3 (simple) or 9 (compound) in the upper figure of the time signature, with 3/4, 3/2, and 3/8 being the most common examples. The upper figure being divisible by three does not of itself indicate triple metre; for example, a time signature of 6/8 usually indicates compound duple metre, and the 12/8 sections of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis are compound double with a primary division of four to the bar.

    It is reasonably common in ballads and classical music but much less so in genres such as rock & roll and jazz. The most common time in rock, blues, country, funk, and pop is quadruple. Although jazz writing has become more adventurous since Dave Brubeck's seminal Time Out, the majority of jazz and jazz standards are still in straight quadruple time.

    Triple time is common in formal dance styles, for example the waltz, the minuet and the mazurka.

    Movements in triple time characterized the more adventurous approach of 17th and 18th Century music, for example the Sarabande, which originated in Latin America and appeared in Spain early in the 16th Century, became a standard movement in the suite during the baroque period. The baroque sarabande is commonly a slow triple rather than the much faster Spanish original, consistent with the courtly European interpretations of many Latin dances. The sarabande form was revived in the 20th Century by composers such as Debussy, Satie and, in a different style, Vaughan Williams (in Job) and Benjamin Britten (in Simple Symphony)

    Tunes in triple metre tend to be more lyrical and less martial than those in double. For example, the British national anthem, God Save the Queen, is in triple metre - this is highly unusual for a national anthem, almost all are in march time. Another example is the American national anthem.

    In Mozart's Requiem triple time is used in the Recordare, Hostias and Agnus Dei as a counterpoint to the more robust two- and four-in-a-bar of the rest of the work, giving these movements a more reflective feel.

    * Tristich

    A Tristich is any strophe, stanza, or poem that consists of exactly three lines.

    * Trivium (education)

    In medieval universities, the trivium comprised the three subjects that were taught first: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The word is a Latin term meaning “the three ways” or “the three roads” forming the foundation of a medieval liberal arts education. This study was preparatory for the quadrivium. The trivium is implicit in the De nuptiis of Martianus Capella, although the term was not used until the Carolingian era when it was coined in imitation of the earlier quadrivium. It was later systematized in part by Petrus Ramus as an essential part of Ramism.

    * Trobar clus

    Trobar clus, or closed form, was a complex and obscure style of poetry used by troubadours for their more discerning audiences, and it was only truly appreciated by an elite few. It was developed extensively by Marcabru, but by 1200 its inaccessibility led to its disappearance. Among the imitators of Marcabru were Alegret and Marcoat, who claimed himself to write vers contradizentz (contradictory verses), indicative of the incomprehensibility of the trobar clus style. Below is a sample of the style from Marcoat's sirventes Mentre m'obri eis huisel, wherein the poet himself remarks on his moz clus (closed words):

    Mon serventes no val plus,
    que faitz es de bos moz clus
    apren lo, Domeing Sarena.

    Among the late twelfth-century practitionars of trobar clus was Peire d'Alvernhe, an imitator of Marcabru, while Raimbaut d'Aurenga of the trobar ric style was influenced by Marcoat. The only trobairitz (female troubadour) to use the trobar clus with mastery was Lombarda around 1216.

    * Trochee

    A trochee or choree, choreus, is a metrical foot used in formal poetry consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one. Trochee comes from the Greek τροχός, trokhós, wheel, and choree from χορός, khorós, dance; both convey the "rolling" rhythm of this metrical foot.

    * Trope (literature)

    A literary trope is the usage of figurative language in literature, or a figure of speech in which words are used in a sense different from their literal meaning. The term trope derives from the Greek τρόπος - tropos "turn, direction, way", related to the root of the verb τρέπειν (trepein), "to turn, to direct, to alter, to change".

    In common usage, a trope is often a cliché.

    Rhetoricians have closely analyzed the bewildering array of "turns and twists" used in poetry and literature and have provided an extensive list of precise labels for these poetic devices. Some examples include:


    For a longer list, see Rhetorical remedies.

    * Troubadour

    A troubadour was a composer and performer of Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350). Since the word "troubadour" is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz.

    The troubadour school or tradition began in the 11th century in Occitania, but it subsequently spread into Italy, Spain, and even Greece. Under the influence of the troubadours, related movements sprang up throughout Europe: the Minnesang in Germany, trovadorismo in Galicia and Portugal, and that of the trouvères in northern France. Dante Alighieri in his De vulgari eloquentia defined the troubadour lyric as fictio rethorica musicaque poita: rhetorical, musical, and poetical fiction. After the "classical" period around the turn of the 13th century and a mid-century resurgence, the art of the troubadours declined in the 14th century and eventually died out around the time of the Black Death (1348).

    The texts of troubadour songs deal mainly with themes of chivalry and courtly love. Most were metaphysical, intellectual, and formulaic. Many were humorous or vulgar satires. Works can be grouped into three styles: the trobar leu (light), trobar ric (rich), and trobar clus (closed). Likewise there were many genres, the most popular being the canso, but sirventes and tensos were especially popular in the post-classical period, in Italy, and among the female troubadours, the trobairitz.

    * Trouvère

    Trouvère (is the Northern French (langue d'oïl) form of the word trobador (as spelled in the langue d'oc). It refers to poet-composers who were roughly contemporary with and influenced by the troubadours but who composed their works in the northern dialects of France. The word trouvère comes from the Old French trovere, from the Provençal word trobaire, meaning 'to find or invent (rhetorically)'. The first known trouvère was Chrétien de Troyes (fl. 1160s-80s) (Butterfield, 1997) and the trouvères continued to flourish until about 1300. Some 2130 trouvère poems have survived; of these, at least two-thirds have melodies.

    The popular image of the troubadour or trouvère is that of the itinerant musician wandering from town to town, lute on his back. Such people existed, but they were called jongleurs and minstrels — poor musicians, male and female, on the fringes of society. The troubadours and trouvères, on the other hand, represent aristocratic music making. They were either poets and composers who were supported by the aristocracy or, just as often, were aristocrats themselves, for whom the creation and performance of music was part of the courtly tradition. Among their number we can count kings, queens, and countesses. The texts of these songs are a natural reflection of the society that created them. They often revolve around idealized treatments of courtly love ("fine amors", see grand chant) and religious devotion, although many can be found that take a more frankly earthy look at love.

    The performance of this style of music is a matter of conjecture. Some scholars suggest that it should be performed in a free rhythmic style and with limited use of accompanying instruments (especially those songs with more elevated text). Other scholars, as well as many performers, believe that instrumental accompaniment and a more rhythmic interpretation is equally valid.

    Johannes de Grocheio, a Parisian musical theorist of the early 14th century, believed that trouvère songs inspired kings and noblemen to do great things and to be great: "This kind of song is customarily composed by kings and nobles and sung in the presence of kings and princes of the land so that it may move their minds to boldness and fortitude, magnanimity and liberality..." (Page, 1997)

    Since the 1980s, the existence of women trouvères is generally accepted.

    * Truncated line - Acatalexis

    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.

    * Tumbling verse - John Skelton

    John Skelton, also known as John Shelton (c. 1460 – 21 June 1529), possibly born in Diss, Norfolk, was an English poet.

    * Type scene

    A type scene is a literary convention employed by a narrator across a set of scenes, or related to scenes (place, action) already familiar to the audience. The similarities with, and differences from, the established type are used to illuminate developments in plot and character. The technique of the type-scene offers the poet a basic scaffolding, but it also allows the poet to adapt each scene for specific purposes.

    Much of the foundational work for such analysis was by Walter Arend in his 1933 Die typischen Scenen bei Homer book on the Iliad of Homer. Later work by Robert Alter employed similar examination to parts of the Hebrew Bible, in particular to the betrothal type-scene at the well in Genesis.

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    See all literary glossaries:

    Published - February 2011

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