Jeffries, Lesley (2015) Critical Stylistics. In: The Bloomsbury Companion to Stylistics. Bloomsbury Companions . Bloomsbury Academic, London, pp. 157-176. ISBN 9781441160058

This chapter is an overview of an approach that I have been calling ‘ critical
stylistics ’ in order to distinguish it from mainstream critical discourse analysis
(CDA) on the one hand and from literary stylistics on the other. In order to
show how it works, I will need to introduce a broader framework to demonstrate
how it fits into a general theory of language.

The fi rst thing to say is that stylistics puts text (understood broadly to include
all language use) at the centre of its activity (Jeff ries and McIntyre 2010). This is
true of critical stylistics too (Jeff ries 2010a, 2014). I do not wish to criticise those
linguists who put context at the heart of what they do (though that makes it less
clearly linguistic in nature). Nor would I want to dismiss the work of linguists
who work mainly on de-contextual and de-textual understandings of how language
(phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics) works. It will be seen below that these systematic aspects of language are vital to understanding
how we interpret text, and this work is therefore one of the underpinnings
needed to progress with stylistics, critical or otherwise. It is also, of course,
important to understand how various aspects of context can and do aff ect the
reception of texts. All I would add here is that, in my opinion, more progress is
made by investigating natural phenomena (such as human language) systematically
by focusing on specifi c parts of the object of scrutiny than by trying to
explain everything at once.

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