ENGL 322

Stylistics (3 credits)

Course Description
This course will introduce students to methods of analyzing the language of literary texts from a linguistic perspective.

It will begin with the question “What is ‘style’ and how can it be identified?” Among the other questions to be taken up—from the perspective of language—will be some of the following: “How is cohesion achieved in texts” “What linguistic forms are used for the representation of speech and thought and what are the literary effects of each?” “How are elements foregrounded or backgrounded in a text?” “What place do presuppositions or inferences have in literary interpretation?” “What devices of evaluation can be used in a text?” “What means can be used to organize narratives on a global level?” “What insights are gained by analyzing literary works from the perspective of speech acts or politeness phenomena?” “How does deictic point of view influence the meaning of literary texts?” “To what extent does dramatic dialogue correspond to real dialogue”

Because of time limitations, the course will focus on prose and drama, but poetry will not be entirely excluded.

Required Texts
Toolan, Michael, Language in Literature: an Introduction to Stylistics
Short, Mick, Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose

Some background in language or linguistics (English 329, Linguistics 200/201 or 420, or the equivalent) is recommended, but not required. Please speak to the instructor to confirm your eligibility for the course.


  • A midterm and a final examination.
  • A short paper providing a stylistic analysis of a literary passage.
  • Participation in pair/group work and in class discussions.