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abstract
An abbreviated synopsis of a longer work of scholarship or research
adage
A saying or proverb containing a truth based on experience and often couched in metaphorical language
allegory
A story in which the narrative or characters carry an underlying symbolic, metaphorical, or possibly an ethical meaning
alliteration
The repetition of one or more initial consonants in a group of words or lines of poetry or prose
allusion
A reference to a person, place, or event meant to create an effect or enhance the meaning of an idea
ambiguity
A vagueness of meaning; a conscious lack of clarity meant to evoke multiple meanings and interpretation
anachronism
A person, scene, event, or other element in literature that fails to correspond with the time or era in which the work is set
analogy
A comparison that points out similarities between two dissimilar things
annotation
A brief explanation, summary, or evaluation of a text or work of literature
antagonist
A character or force in a work of literature that, by opposing the protagonist produces tension or conflict
antithesis
A rhetorical opposition or contrast of ideas by means of a grammatical arrangement of words, clauses, or sentences: "They promised freedom but provided slavery"
aphorism
A short, pithy statement of a generally accepted truth or sentiment
Apollonian
In contrast to Dionysian, it refers to the most noble, godlike qualities of human nature and behavior
apostrophe
A locution that addresses a person or personified thing not present
archetype
An abstract or ideal conception of a type; a perfectly typical example; an original model or form
assonance
The repetition of two or more vowel sounds in a group of words or lines in poetry and prose
ballad
A simple narrative verse that tells a story that is sung or recited
bard
A poet; in olden times, a performer who told heroic stories to musical accompaniment
bathos
The use of insincere or overdone sentimentality
belle-lettres
French term for the world of books, criticism, and literature in general
bibliography
A list of works cited or otherwise relevant to a subject or other work.
Bildungsroman
A German word referring to a novel structured as a series of events that take place as the hero travels in quest of a goal
blank verse
Poetry written in iambic pentameter, the primary meter used in English poetry and the works of Shakespeare and Milton
bombast
Inflated, pretentious language used for trivial subjects
burlesque
A work of literature meant to ridicule a subject; a grotesque imitation
cacophony
Grating, inharmonious sounds
caesura
A pause somewhere in the middle of a verse, often (but not always) marked by punctuation
canon
The works considered most important in a national literature or period; works widely read and studied
caricature
A grotesque likeness of striking qualities in persons and things
carpe diem
Literally, "seize the day"; enjoy life while you can, a common theme in literature
catharsis
A cleansing of the spirit brought about by the pity and terror of a dramatic tragedy
classic
A highly regarded work of literature or other art form that has withstood the test of time
classicism
Deriving from the orderly qualities of ancient Greek and Roman culture; implies formality, objectivity, simplicity, and restraint
climax
The high point, or turning point, of a story or play
coming-of-age story
A tale in which a young protagonist experiences an introduction to adulthood. The character may develop understanding via disillusionment, education, doses of reality, or any other experiences that alter his or her emotional or intellectual maturity
conceit
A witty or ingenious thought; a diverting or highly fanciful idea, often stated in figurative language
connotation
The suggested or implied meaning of a word or phrase
consonance
The repetition of two or more consonant sounds in a group of words or a line of poetry
couplet
A pair of rhyming lines in a poem
denotation
The dictionary definition of a word
denouement
The resolution that occurs at the end of a play or work of fiction
deus ex machina
In literature, the use of an artificial device or gimmick to solve a problem
diction
The choice of words in oral and written discourse
Dionysian
As distinguished from Apollonian, the word refers to sensual, pleasure-seeking impulses
dramatic irony
A circumstance in which the audience or reader knows more about a situation than a character, ex. Oedipus Rex
elegy
A poem or prose selection that laments or mediates on the passing or death of something or someone of value
ellipsis
Three periods (. . .) indicating the omission of words in a thought or quotation
elliptical construction
A sentence containing a deliberate omission of words. In the sentence "May was hot and June the same," the verb "was" is omitted from the second clause
empathy
A feeling of association or identification with an object or person
end-stopped
A term that describes a line of poetry that ends with a natural pause often indicated by a mark of punctuation.
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