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Feeling the Meaning: Poetry, Syntax and the Reader

Professor Lesley Jeffries (University of Huddersfield) on the interaction between grammatical structure and meanings conveyed by poetry

Do you ever have the feeling that a poem has moved you in a way that cannot be accounted for by the sounds, the word choices or combinations of words, or even by the subject matter itself? There are some poetic effects which, it seems to me, can only be accounted for by appealing to the notion of what I call 'syntactic iconicity'. This is the capacity for the structure of the grammar itself to convey - to reflect directly - the very meaning of the poem by appealing to our underlying grammatical expectations.

I will show you how Philip Larkin can make you feel the tedium of his narrator waiting for a concert to begin on the radio; how Pamela Gililan causes you to feel just like the child waiting for her tea at the table; how U A Fanthorpe builds the pain of bereavement into her syntax and makes you feel it with her protagonist.


Professor Lesley Jeffries | talks | www


Date and Time:

14 March 2011 at 1:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



English, Middlesex University
The Burroughs
+44 20 84 11 65 55

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Additional Information:

All welcome. This talk takes place in Room L100A, Lakeview Building, Trent Park Campus. Free and open to all. Contact Billy Clark for further details:

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