Mick Short`s `Take` on Stylistics, Going About a Stylistic Analysis and

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Mick Short’s ‘Take’ on
Stylistics, Going About a
Stylistic Analysis and
Writing it Up
Distinguish the phases
1. The research phase
2. The writing up phase
The research phase:
A. Preparation
First, read and re-reread for understanding
Then look up context, and references, words
(OED!), allusions etc and make notes when rereading if these factors change, enhance your
understanding etc
Note down every factor you must analyse.
Briefly write down what you think of the text in
terms of interpretation and effects, so that you
don’t slide interpretatively later (you can then reexamine your initial thoughts after analysis too)
If you must read critics, find one to disagree with.
The research phase:
B. Analysis
• Be analytically precise – strive to be accurate
and don’t be afraid to do the detail
• Be dispassionate and open, honest and
truthful – with yourself in the research phase
and with your reader in the writing-up phase
• Be systematic:
• Analyse all the aspects and all the levels
• Analyse all the text you are considering
The research phase:
C. Selection
After analysis, check back on your original
interpretative statements etc and see if you
have changed your mind or can now say with
more precision what you originally said more
generally. Write down any changes.
Select from all that analysis which kinds of
analysis MUST be included in the essay,
which you need to get in in less detail and
which can be forgotten about, by and large.
Write your decisions down, so that you can
refer to them
Work out what the STORY of your essay is
going to be.
The writing-up phase: 1
Begin by writing your general account of
your understanding, effects that the text
generates etc (including reference to
relevant contextual etc matters).
Don’t be afraid to say that you changed
your mind, understood more accurately, or
whatever after analysis
Don’t forget you have a reader. Help the
reader to know where you are going, and
The writing-up phase: 2
Now concentrate on how to present your
argument for your views to your reader
Work out the best structure for writing up your
analysis relevant to your interpretation
What sections?
What order for the sections?
What to present in each section and in what
Don’t forget that even the best structuring will
have some disadvantages
Repair the disadvantages in your writing of the
sentences (e.g. cross-section referencing
The writing-up phase: 3
Don’t waste words – you can’t afford to
Be clear: write as simply and straightforwardly as
you can
You don’t have to tell us you are doing a stylistic
analysis etc. We already know that
You don’t have to include what other people
have said unless it is relevant to your argument.
Just analyse (but do put a bibliography at the
You don’t have to write a conclusion
summarising what you have already said (but it
does help to conclude with any new things your
analysis has brought to light etc)
A Theoretical Interlude:
Foregrounding: A Psychological Phenomenon
Created by:
(Linguistic) Deviation
A --------------- ago
Mick’s bow tie and . . .
(Linguistic) Parallelism
I kissed thee ere I killed thee (Othello)
Main and sub-plot in King Lear
The Secret
We all dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
(Robert Frost)
Extract from a story called ‘Miró, Miró, on
the wall’, from Colum McCann’s, Let the
Great World Spin (published in 2009:. 78-9).
Claire Soderberg, a wealthy American woman whose
son has been killed in the war in Vietnam, is part of
a small, newly-formed group of bereaved mothers
of war victims who support one another. The other
mothers are much less well off than Claire. They
meet at each other’s houses and they are about to
meet at Claire’s penthouse flat for the first time.
Claire is worrying about the other women feeling
overawed. The sentences are numbered for your
A quick shiver splits through her: the doorman. (1)
Wonder, will he question them too much? (2) Who is it today? (3)
Melvyn, is it? (4) The new one? (5) Wednesday. (6) Melvyn, yes. (7) If he
mistakes them for the help? (8) If he shows them to the service elevator?
(9) Must call down and tell him. (10) Earrings! (11) Yes. (12) Earrings. (13)
Quick now. (14) In the bottom of the box, an old pair, simple silver studs,
seldom worn. (15) The bar a little rusty, but no matter. (16) She wets each
stem in her mouth. (17) Catches sight of herself in the mirror again. (18)
The shell-patterned dress, the shoulder-length hair, the badger streak. (19)
She was mistaken once for the mother of a young intellectual seen on
television, talking of photography, the moment of capture, the defiant art.
(20) She too had a badger streak. (21) Photographs keep the dead alive,
the girl had said. (22) Not true. (23) So much more than photographs. (24)
So much more. (25)
Eyes a little glassy already. (26) Not good. (27) Buck up, Claire.
(28) She reaches for the tissues beyond the glass figurines on the dresser,
dries her eyes. (29) Runs to the inner hallway, picks up the ancient handset.
—Melvyn? (31)
She buzzes again. (32) Maybe outside smoking. (33)
—Melvyn?! (34)
—Yes, Mrs. Soderberg? (35)
His voice calm, even. Welsh or Scottish—she's never asked. (36)
—I have some friends dining with me this morning. (37)
—Yes, ma'am. (38)
—I mean, they're coming for breakfast. (39)
—Yes, Mrs. Soderberg. (40)
She runs her fingers along the dark wainscoting of the corridor. (41)
Dining? (42) Did I really say dining? (43) How could I say dining? (44)
—You'll make sure they're welcome? (45)
—Of course, ma'am. (46)
—Four of them. (47)
—Yes, Mrs. Soderberg. (48)
Breathing into the handset. (49) That fuzz of red mustache above his
lip. (50) Should have asked where he was from when he first started
working. (51) Rude not to. (52)
—Anything else, ma'am? (53) Ruder to ask now. (54)
—Melvyn? (55) The correct elevator. (56)
—Of course, ma'am. (57)
—Thank you. (58)
She leans her head against the cool of the wall. (59)
She shouldn't have said anything at all about a correct or
incorrect elevator. (60) A bushe, Solomon would have said.
(61) Melvyn'll be down there, paralyzed, and then he'll put
them in the wrong one. (62) The elevator there to your right,
ladies. (63) In you go. (64) She feels a flush of shame to her
cheeks. (65) But she used the word dining, didn't she? (66)
He'll hardly mistake that. (67) Dining for breakfast. (68) Oh,
my. (69)
The overexamined life, Claire, it's not worth living. (70)

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