Stylistics and relevance theory

Book chapter

Clark, B. 2014. Stylistics and relevance theory. in: Burke, M. (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Stylistics London Routledge. pp. 155-174
Chapter titleStylistics and relevance theory
AuthorsClark, B.

Relevance theory is arguably the most influential approach to pragmatics to have developed from the work of Grice (1989). It has been applied in a wide range of areas, including accounts of reasoning in general, developmental psychology, and the understanding of conditions such as autistic spectrum disorders. The majority of relevance-theoretic work has been concerned with developing accounts of linguistically encoded meanings (linguistic semantics) and how these interact with contextual assumptions in understanding utterances (pragmatics). Accounting for interpretations is a key focus of work in stylistics, so it is natural that relevance-theoretic ideas have been applied to stylistics, providing accounts of particular texts and of particular phenomena involved in the production and comprehension of texts. It has also contributed to more general theoretical debates, for example about the nature of ‘literariness’ and authorial intention, and is beginning to contribute to accounts of formal literary interpretation and formal and informal evaluation. As has often been pointed out (e.g. by Pilkington et al 1997; Wilson 2011), the aim is not to provide particular interpretations or evaluation but to explain the processes involved in arriving at these. Relevance theory can also contribute to accounts of textual production and editorial processes, and to pedagogical work of various kinds. This chapter says something about previous, ongoing and possible future work in each of these areas.

Research GroupEnglish Language and Literature
Page range155-174
Book titleThe Routledge Handbook of Stylistics
EditorsBurke, M.
Place of publicationLondon
SeriesRoutledge Handbooks in English Language Studies
Publication dates
Publication process dates
Deposited30 May 2014
Output statusPublished
Web address (URL)
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