Research Seminars

Research seminars

A processing and language-based typology of poetic difficulty

Davide Castiglione (Vilnius University)

7th march 2018

This talks presents some recent conceptual refinements of my difficulty model. In particular, it posits the need for three cognitive-behavioural dimensions (accessibility, readability and interpretability) mediating between poetic difficulty as a response phenomenon and the linguistic strategies prompting it at the textual level. An important consequence of this refinement is a much firmer theoretical distinction between difficulty and obscurity, as well as the development of four aesthetic typologies solidly grounded in the textuality of poems: 1) processing baseline (high on accessibility, readability and interpretability); 2) transient difficulty (low on accessibility and readability, high on interpretability); 3) permanent difficulty (low on accessibility, readability and interpretability), of which I identify two subtypes: the chaotic poem (impeded interpretability) and the nonsensical one (unacceptable interpretability). Each type will be exemplified in stylistic terms and compared to previous typological attempts, notably Steiner (1978).

Hazel Price