Literary pragmatics

Dirk de Geest
Table of contents

Taking into account Morris’ classic tripartite division of semiotics into syntax, semantics and pragmatics, it may be convincingly argued that, in the twentieth century, literary research has undergone a fundamental shift in orientation, from a basically text-oriented (i.e. syntactic and semantic) towards a more context-oriented (i.e. pragmatic) approach. This global ‘pragmatic turn’ may be discerned first of all in a number of theoretical and methodological studies, in which considerable stress is laid on so-called ‘extrinsic’ factors, such as literary institutions (publishing houses, libraries, periodicals, etc.), ideological influences on literature, or the specific cognitive and emotional abilities of particular readers. Moreover, a similar attention to the contextual embedding of literary phenomena is currently displayed in the concrete historical analysis of particular corpora and cultural phenomena as well.

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