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 panels at the International Pragmatics Association conferences in Manchester in July 2011 (‘The interface between pragmatics and literary stylistics’ and in Belfast in July 2017 (‘Pragmatic approaches to literary analysis’). We have organised a number of workshops of the Special Interest Group on ‘Pragmatics and Literature’ at conferences of the Poetics and Linguistics Association: Malta (2012), Cagliari (2016), Birmingham (2017), Liverpool (2019). we have published two edited collections of essays: Pragmatic Literary Stylistics (Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition, 2014) and Pragmatics and Literature (Benjamins Linguistic Approaches to Literature, 2019).

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’, and my analysis of a novel by Ernest Hemingway is published in Pragmatics and Literature as ‘Marked forms and indeterminate implicatures in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises’. I have recently completed a major project using neo-Gricean pragmatics as a means of analysing the extensive post-publication re-writings of George Moore.

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