Pragmatic Stylistics

I am interested in the potential of the various current branches of  pragmatic theory as frameworks for the stylistic analysis of literary texts, and I am exploring this potential in discursive and collaborative work, as well as in my individual research.

Billy Clark from Northumbria University and I have worked together on a number of projects in this area. We organised a panel at the International Pragmatics Association conference in Manchester in July 2011 on ‘The interface between pragmatics and literary stylistics’, a special interest group at the International Poetics and Linguistics Association conference in Malta in July 2012 on ‘Pragmatic Stylistics’, a further special interest group at the PALA conference in Cagliari in July 2016 on ‘Pragmatics and Literature’ and a panel on ‘Pragmatic Approaches to Literary Analysis’ at the International Pragmatics Association conference in Belfast in July 2017. In September 2014 we published the edited collection of essays Pragmatic Literary Stylistics in the Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition series. Together with the publishers John Benjamin we are currently developing a new collection of essays, to be published as Pragmatics and Literature.

In my own research, I am exploring the possibilities of using neo-Gricean pragmatics, particularly the two-principled pragmatic theory developed by Laurence Horn, as an approach to the analysis of literary texts. My article ‘Towards a neo-Gricean pragmatics: implicature in Dorothy L. Sayers’s Gaudy Night‘ was published in a special issue of the Journal of Literary Semantics in 2012. My application of neo-Gricean pragmatics to an early work by Elizabeth Bowen is published in Pragmatics Literary Stylistics as ‘”Oh, do let’s talk about something else-“: What is not said and what is implicated in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September’. I am currently developing a project to use neo-Gricean pragmatics as a means of analysing the extensive post-publication re-writings of George Moore.

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