Reading Beyond the Code: Literature and Relevance Theory

Reading Beyond the Code: Literature and Relevance Theory

By: Terence Cave (editor), Deirdre Wilson (editor)Hardback

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This book explores the value for literary studies of the model of communication known as relevance theory. Drawing on a wide range of examples-lyric poems by Yeats, Herrick, Heaney, Dickinson, and Mary Oliver, novels by Cervantes, Flaubert, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton-nine of the ten essays are written by literary specialists and use relevance theory both as a broad framing perspective and as a resource for detailed analysis. The final essay, by Deirdre Wilson, co-founder (with Dan Sperber) of relevance theory, takes a retrospective view of the issues addressed by the volume and considers the implications of literary studies for cognitive approaches to communication. Relevance theory, described by Alastair Fowler as 'nothing less than the makings of a radically new theory of communication, the first since Aristotle's', offers a comprehensive pragmatics of language and communication grounded in evidence about the ways humans think and behave. While designed to capture the everyday murmur of conversation, gossip, peace-making, hate speech, love speech, 'body-language', and the chatter of the internet, it covers the whole spectrum of human modes of communication, including literature in the broadest sense as a characteristically human activity. Reading Beyond the Code is unique in using relevance theory as a prime resource for literary study, and it is also the first to claim that the model works best for literature when understood in the light of a broader cognitive approach, focusing on a range of phenomena that support an 'embodied' conception of cognition and language. This broadened perspective serves to enhance the value for literary studies of the central claim of relevance theory, that the 'code model' is fundamentally inadequate to account for human communication, and in particular for the modes of communication that are proper to literature.

About Author

Terence Cave CBE FBA is Emeritus Professor of French Literature, University of Oxford, Emeritus Research Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, and Honorary Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He holds an honorary doctorate at Royal Holloway University of London. and is Chevalier dans l'Ordre National du Merite (France). He is recognized as a leading specialist in French Renaissance literature, but has also made landmark contributions to comparative literature and the history of poetics. In 2009, he won the Balzan Prize for literature since 1500 and subsequently directed the Balzan project 'Literature as an Object of Knowledge' (2010-14). His most recent work focuses on cognitive approaches to literature. Deirdre Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at UCL and co-director of the Linguistic Agency project at the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, University of Oslo. Her book Relevance: Communication and Cognition, co-written with Dan Sperber, was described in the London Review of Books as 'nothing less than the makings of a radically new theory of communication, the first since Aristotle's' and in Rhetoric Society Quarterly as 'probably the best book you'll ever read on communication.' Translated into twelve languages (including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Malay, Indonesian, and Arabic), it has had a lasting influence in philosophy, psychology, and linguistics and is now regarded as a classic.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780198794776
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 256
  • ID: 9780198794776
  • weight: 580
  • ISBN10: 0198794770

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