Processing effort and poetic closure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Smith (1968) argues that poems may end with formal changes which produce an experience of closure in the reader. I argue that formal changes do not directly cause an experience of closure. Instead, changes in poetic form always demand increased processing effort from the reader, whether they involve new forms, shifts from more to less regular form, or from less to more regular form. I use relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson 1995) to argue that the increased processing effort encourages the reader to formulate rich and relevant thoughts, including the thought 'this poem has closure'. Closure is thus the content of a thought rather than a type of experience. I further argue that 'closure' is a term whose meaning cannot be fully understood, which makes the thought 'this poem has closure' into a schematic belief of the kind which Sperber shows has great richness and productivity. This is one of the reasons that the thought 'this poem has closure' achieves sufficient relevance to justify the effort put into processing the end of the poem.
LanguageEnglish
Pages1-22
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Literary Linguistics
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2016

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Poetics
Closure
Poem
Reader
Regular
Causes
Thought
Poetic Form
Relevance Theory
Productivity

Keywords

  • closure
  • expectation
  • Gestalt theory
  • metre
  • poetic form
  • processing
  • effort
  • relevance theory
  • tension

Cite this

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title = "Processing effort and poetic closure",
abstract = "Smith (1968) argues that poems may end with formal changes which produce an experience of closure in the reader. I argue that formal changes do not directly cause an experience of closure. Instead, changes in poetic form always demand increased processing effort from the reader, whether they involve new forms, shifts from more to less regular form, or from less to more regular form. I use relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson 1995) to argue that the increased processing effort encourages the reader to formulate rich and relevant thoughts, including the thought 'this poem has closure'. Closure is thus the content of a thought rather than a type of experience. I further argue that 'closure' is a term whose meaning cannot be fully understood, which makes the thought 'this poem has closure' into a schematic belief of the kind which Sperber shows has great richness and productivity. This is one of the reasons that the thought 'this poem has closure' achieves sufficient relevance to justify the effort put into processing the end of the poem.",
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Processing effort and poetic closure. / Fabb, Nigel.

In: International Journal of Literary Linguistics, Vol. 5, No. 4, 15.09.2016, p. 1-22.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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