Teaching Stylistics: Foregrounding in E. E. Cummings

Dan McIntyre, Lesley Jeffries

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This essay seeks to demonstrate how the deployment of stylistic techniques extends the investigative repertoire of textual analysis. The acquisition of a relatively accessible stylistic vocabulary can be a lifeline for students who sense that literary discourse exudes a mystique to which they lack access. A systematic approach avoids the danger of only describing those textual features that are most obvious from a cursory reading. The essay centres on an analysis of a specific poem, and shows how stylistic analysis can support an interpretation of a poem or other text by providing textual evidence for (and, of course, potentially against) intuitive responses. Stylistics offers a mode of pedagogic dialogue within which both students and their teachers can identify and refine new insights. Thus, it can also highlight features of the poem that might otherwise be overlooked, or where students might otherwise be inclined simply to take the teacher’s word for it. Stylistics enables us to speculate in a more informed way about why an author chooses to use specific stylistic techniques, and why these choices have the impacts that they do.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching Literature
Subtitle of host publicationText and Dialogue in the English Classroom
EditorsBen Knights
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan UK
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781137311108
ISBN (Print)9781137311085
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2017

Publication series

NameTeaching the New English
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)1754-9728
ISSN (Electronic)2947-9266


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