Stylistics: Language in Literature - LL518

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module is concerned with the stylistic analysis of literature and is based on the premise that the decision to study literature is also a decision to study the expressive mechanics of language (and vice versa). Attention is given to all three main genres (poetry, prose fiction and drama); thus the module is divided into three blocks according to the kind of text analysed. The first section examines poetry and considers topics such as patterns of lexis, phonetic and metrical organisation and the relationship to meaning; the second looks at fiction through patterns of style variation, inferencing and speech thought presentation; the third examines drama and considers topics such as the patterns in turn-taking and their relationship to the roles and functions of characters, speech act analysis and styles of politeness behaviour. At all stages of the module, the social and cultural context of the works studies will be an important consideration.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (1,000 words) – 30%
Essay 2 (2,000 words) – 70%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Culpepper, J., M. Short and P. Verdonk (1988). Exploring the Language of Drama: From Text to Context, London: Routledge.
Simpson, P. (2004). Stylistics: A Resource Book for Students, London: Routledge.
Short, M. and G. Leech (2007). Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose, London: Longman.
Short, M. H. (1986) Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose, Longman.
Verdonk, P. and J. J. Weber (1996). Twentieth Century Fiction: from Text to Context, London: Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Select and apply precise linguistic, stylistic and narratological terminology to the study of poetry, prose and drama texts;
Analyse the linguistic and stylistic choices a writer makes which are connected with meaning and effect on the reader;
Extrapolate from linguistic examples and evidence those characteristics that contribute to individual authorial 'style' and worldview, including the effect of social and cultural context on the production of literary meaning;
Demonstrate their understanding of the interconnections and interfaces between English literature and language;
Present, evaluate and interpret both qualitative and quantitative stylistic and linguistic data to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements about literary discourse;
Demonstrate a detailed understanding of concepts relating to literary genre.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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