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1.1. Aims of the unit.
1.2. Notes on bibliography.
2.1. Communication and language.
2.2. Language communicative purposes.
2.3. Jakobsons model: the poetic function.
3.1. The historical origin of literature.
3.2. Literary vs. ordinary language.
3.3. Literary language and Rethoric.
3.4. Text linguistics and discourse analysis.
3.5. Text types: literary texts.
4.1. The context of situation and genre.
4.2. On defining genre and literary genre.
4.3. On classifying genres: main criteria.
4.4. On classifying genres: main types.
4.5. Main characteristics of genre types.
5.1. On defining literary criticism.
5.2. The origins and development of literary criticism.
5.2.1. Ancient times.
5.2.2. The Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
5.2.3. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
5.2.4. The nineteenth century.
5.2.5. The twentieth and twenty-first century. Structuralism. Russian Formalism. New Criticism. Post-Structuralism. Marxist Literary Theories. Other types of literary criticism.


1.1. Aims of the unit.
The main aim of Unit 37 is to present the issue of literary language, literary genres and literary
criticism. Our aim is to offer a broad account of what literary texts are and why they are used for in
both linguistic, pragmatic and educational terms, that is, how language and textual features are used
to achieve the purpose of using the aesthetic element in ordinary language, handling different types
of text in everyday life and being able to trace back the history of literature in terms of its main
weakness and strengths (criticism). So, we shall divide our study in seven main chapters.

In Chapter 2 we shall offer a theoretical framework for the analysis of literary language (to be
examined in next chapter) by reviewing the concept of language in relation to the concept of
literature, which prove essential in the understanding of the present study. So, we shall review the
origins and nature of (1) communication in relation to language and (2) the main language
communicative purposes as a means to establish the basis for (3) Jakobsons model on language
functions. Here this model shall lead us directly to the notion of poetic function so as to establish
the distinction between ordinary language and poetic (or literary) language.
Chapter 3 will analyse the issue of literary language by locating (1) the historical origin of literature
so as to (2) define literary language in opposition to the notion of ordinary language. Then, we
shall examine the linguistic field where it comes into force, that is, in the late antiquity (3) under the
field of Rethoric and currently, under (4) the notion of text linguistics and discourse analysis. Then
we shall approach (5) the classification of text types, by means of which we get the concept of
literary texts. This review will be the basis on the next two chapters: literary genres and literary
Chapter 4 will offer then an insightful analysis of literary genres in terms of providing a (1)
linguistic framework for genre; (2) a definition of genre and literary genre; (3) an account of the
main criteria for the cla ssification of genres; and (4) main types; and finally, (5) main features of
genres according to structural features (form, technique and content).
Chapter 5 is developed by (1) defining literary criticism; (2) providing an account of the origins and
development of literary criticism throughtout history from (a) ancient times, (b) the Middle Ages


and the Renaissance, (c) the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, (d) the nineteenth century and (e)
the twentieth and twenty-first century. Within the latter part we shall examine the main ways of
criticism such as (i) Structuralism, (ii) Russian Formalism, (iii) New Criticism, (iv) PostStructuralism, (v) Marxist Literary Theories, (vi) Feminist Literary Criticism, and also (vii) other
secondary types of literary criticism.
Chapter 6 will be devoted to present the main educational implications in language teaching
regarding literary language and Chapter 7 will offer a conclusion to broadly overview our present
study. Finally, Chapter 8 will include all the bibliographical references used in this study.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.

An influential introduction to literary language regarding its origins is drawn from Crystal,
Linguistics (1985) and Goytisolo, Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible heritage
of Humanity (2001). General contributions to literary theory are based on relevant works of
Eagleton, Literary Theory. An Introduction (1983); and Jefferson and Robey, Modern Literary
Theory. A Comparative Introduction (1986). Classic works regarding the term literary texts and
text-types include Crystal and Davy, Investigating English Style (1969); Beaugrande and Dressler,
Introduction to Text Linguistics (1988); and Esser, Text-Type as a Linguistic Unit (1991). Other
views on literature and discourse modes include Conn, Choosing and Using Literature (1995);
Fludernik, Towards a Natural Narratology (1996); Kinneavy, A Theory of Discourse. The Aims of
Discourse (1971).

The background for educational implications regarding literary language is based on the theory of
communicative competence and communicative approaches to language teaching are provided by
Canale, From Communicative Competence to Communicative Language Pedagogy (1983); Hymes,
On communicative competence (1972). In addition, the most complete record of current
publications within the educational framework is provided by the guidelines in van Ek and Trim,
Vantage (2001); B.O.E. (2002); and the Council of Europe, Modern Languages: Learning,
Teaching, Assessment. A Common European Framework of reference (1998).



In this section, a relevant background for literary language is to be found at the core of the
communication process, which sheds light on the key concepts of language and literature. So,
we shall approach the human need of communicating, the way of presenting reality through
messages (oral or written) and the main functions of language. An insightful analysis of the latter
aspect (language functions) is based on the theory of the Russian linguist Roman Jakobson which
will show us how these concepts are interrelated.
So, we shall review the origins and nature of (1) communication in relation to language and (2) the
main language communicative purposes as a means to establish the basis for (3) Jakobsons model
on language functions . Here this model shall lead us directly to the notion of poetic function so as
to establish the distinction between ordinary language and poetic (or literary) language.

2.1. Communication and language.

There is more to communication than just one person speaking and another one listening. Human
communication processes are quite complex since we may differentiate between verbal and nonverbal, oral and written, formal and informal, and intentional and unintentional communication. In
addition, there is human and animal communication, and nowadays we may also refer to humancomputer communication.
Research in cultural anthropology has shown quite clearly that the origins of communication are to
be found in the very early stages of life when there was a need for animals and humans to
communicate so as to carry out basic activities of everyday life (i.e. hunting, eating, fighting,
establishing social structures). However, even the most primitive cultures had a constant need to
express their feelings and ideas by other means than gutural sounds and body movements as
animals did. Human beings constant preoccupation was how to turn thoughts into words.
It is worth, at this point, establishin g a distinction between human and animal systems of
communication whose features differ in the way they produce and express their intentions. So far,
the most important feature of human language is the auditory-vocal channel which, in ancient
times, allowed human beings to produce messages and, therefore to help language develop. Among


other main features, we may mention the possibility of exchanging messages among individuals; a
sense of displacement in an oral interaction in space and time ; the arbitrariness of signs where
words and meanings have no a priori connection; and finally, the possibility of a traditional
transmission as language is handed down from one generation to another by a process of teaching
and learning.
The human curiosity concerning language is no modern phenomenon. Language has been examined
by linguists and philosophers for several millennia. Therefore, we can look back on a respectable
stock of literature on the topic originating from the times of Ancient Greece until the present day.
The result is a compendium of linguistic disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, neurology, and
even computer science more recently.

2.2. Language communicative purposes.

The concept of language has been approached by many linguists, but the most outstanding
definition comes from Halliday (1973) who defines it as an instrument of social interaction with a
clear communicative purpose. Following Crystal (1985), one of the main characteristics of language
is that it is an essential tool of communication. Hence the importance of studying ways and means
of improving communication techniques through history with a highly elaborated signaling system,
both spoken and written, which has had an immense impact on our everyday life. Thus, instances of
verbal communication by means of language are everyday situations: writing a letter, having a
conversation, watching a play, or reading a magazine.
For our purposes in this study, we shall approach the main features of the communication process (a
form of social interaction, unpredictable, creative, uncertain on behalf of the participants and verbal
and non-verbal) among which we shall focus on the main purpose of language, that is, to
communicate in a successful way by means of linguistic, extralinguistic or paralinguistic devices.
One of the most productive schematic models of a communication system emerged from the
speculations of the Russian linguist Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) 1 .

Jakobsons model of language functions is not the only one. We may find other linguists models such as Bhlers
tripartite system and Bronislaw Malinowskis theory.


2.3. Jakobsons model: the poetic function.

Following Jakobson (1960), his model can be used for a number of different purposes in the study
of language and communication and, in fact, it proves essential in the study of literary language so
as to establish a typology of literary genres. Jakobson states that all acts of communication, be the y
written or oral, are based on six constituent elements which every use of language must have
(sender, receiver, message, context, code and channel) , and which are primarily associated with one
of the six functions of language he proposed, thus, emotive, conative, poetic, referential,
metalingual and phatic, respectively. But what does this model have to do with literary language?

The key answer is to be drawn from Jakobsons proposition on the six components, that is, a user
and a receiver of language, and between them four channels of communication: code, channel,
context and message. The relationship between them shows that the code is the language used
(Spanish, English); the contact is the physical channel of communication (speech or writing); the
context is the world of ideas, or discourse, in which the communication takes place (politics,
business, sport, chemistry); and the message is the exact form in which the communication occurs
(its wording in literature for example).
In fact, Jakobson states (1960) that in literature, because of its interest in style, the primary
emphasis is on the message, which deals with the wording or lexical choice. Therefore, we shall
focus on the main language function linked to the message: the poetic one (showing the exact form
of the message in the communication process). He explains that in poetry the wording of the
language itself can have a predominance beyond what it has in other uses of language.
It is relevant to say that all six components of language use are present in poetry as in any other area
of language but concern for the wording (with style) has more dominance than usual. Therefore we
come to a distinction between the use of vocabulary in poetic diction and the usage of vocabulary in
ordinary speech. At this point, once we have analysed the main features of language regarding
communication, we are ready to approach the distinction between ordinary language and literary


On approaching the issue of literary langua ge, we shall start by locating (1) the historical origin of
literature so as to (2) define literary language in opposition to the notion of ordinary language.
Then, we shall examine the linguistic field where it comes into force, that is, in the late antiquity (3)
under the field of Rethoric and currently, under (4) the notion of text linguistics and discourse
analysis. Then we shall approach (5) the classification of text types, by means of which we get the
concept of literary texts. This review will be the basis on the next two chapters: literary genres and
literary criticism.

3.1. The historical origin of literature.

We may say that literature holds timeless universal human truths which can be read or listened to
without regard to historical context of its production, and without regard to particular historical
moment in which we read, listen and make meaning of it. As seen before, we may differenciate
between literary and ordinary language, but when did this distinction come into force? The answer
lies at the core of the use of ordinary language from ancient times up to the present and behind a
definition of literature, so let us examine both aspects.
For Malinowsky, a relevant anthropology figure, language had only two main purposes: pragmatic
and ritual. The former refers to the practical use of language, either active (by means of speech) or
narrative (by means of written texts) and the latter is concerned with the use of language associated
to ceremonies, and also referred to as magic. As seen, we can already mark a distinction here
between ordinary and literary language since both had different purposes.
As we may perceive, language pervades social life since it is the principal vehicle for the
transmission of cultural knowledge, and the primary means by which we gain access to the contents
of others minds. Hence language is involved in most of the phenomena that lie at the core of social
psychology (i.e. attitude change, social perception, personal identity, social interaction,
stereotyping) as well as at the core of social life which constitute an intrinsic part or the way
language is used.


Linguists regard language as an abstract structure that exists independently of specific instances of
usage. However, any communicative exchange is situated in a social context that constrains the
linguistic forms participants use. How these participants define the social situation, their
perceptions of what others know, think and believe, and the claims they make about their own and
others identities will affect the form and content or their acts of speaking. So, this means that social
behaviour determines the language function and therefore, the way they use language.
As Juan Goytisolo (2001) stated in his speech at the Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and
Intangible heritage of Humanity, we must first examine our historical knowledge of both oral and
written cultures so as to provide ourselves a cultural identity in society. Since ancient times, tribal
chiefs, chamans, bards and story-tellers have been in charge of preserving and memorising for the
future the narratives of the past and Goytisolo mentions a growing disequilibrium when observing
that only seventy-eight of the three thousand languages now spoken in the world possess a living
literature based on one of the hundred and six alphabets created throughout history. In other words,
hundreds and hundreds of languages used today on our planet have no written form and their
communication is exclusively oral.
Goytisolo further points out that acquiring knowledge of this primary orality is an anthropological
task in the field of literature and oral narrative. If all cultures are based on language, that is, a
combination of spoken and heard sounds, this oral communication which involves numerous kinetic
and corporal elements, has undergone over the centuries a series of changes as the existence of
writing and awareness of the latter have gradually changed the mentality of bards, chamans, tribal
chiefs and narrators.The usual forms of popular and tradit ional expression were oral literature,
music, dance , games, mythology, rituals, marketplaces, festivals and even architecture.

This performing in public is to be linked to a considerable body of religious tradition and myth in
many cultures concerning the nature and origins of language (Crystal 1985). That transitional period
between sounds and speech was to be characterized by a connectio n between divinity and language,
which is the first evidence of a different use of ordinary language with magic purposes rather than
pragmatic. Therefore, words were regarded as having a separate existence in reality, and as to have
embodied the nature of things to be used deliberately to control and influence events. As we can
see, it was believed that if words controlled things by saying them over and over again in magic
formulae, incantations, rhythmical listing of proper names, and many other rites.


3.2. Literary vs. ordinary language.

As seen before, it was this power of words which leads us to the first attempts of literary language
under the form of the language of worship. In fact, the poetic function of language and therefore,
the wording of a message in the communication process determines the use of vocabulary in poetic
diction (magic power of words) and the usage of vocabulary in ordinary speech. There is no variety
of language peculiar to literature, nor any that is prohibited in literature.
Among the arts, literature is unique in that it uses ordinary language to carry out specific purposes
of communication (to write a poem, read a novel, write a play script) and still, most of us feel that
there is something distinctive about the kind of language which is used. For instance, in ordinary
language we may say The sun is shining again this morning whereas to make it sound literary we
might say the roseate dawn. Definitely, this might be called for convenience literary language.
At the start of the twentieth century, under the intellectual movement of Structuralism, there have
been more serious attempts to define literary language based on the reasons for its use rather than
what kind of vocabulary it has. For instance, the most influential definition states that ordinary
language disappears once it has been undertood whereas literary language can be defined as
language which does not disappear in that way (non-casual vs. casual language).
For instance, for Russian Formalists a sentence like What time is it? in ordinary language may be
satisfactorily answered 4 p.m and no further reflection is made after the statement. On the
contrary, the use of the same question in Shakespeare (Hamlet: I.iv.3-5) changes within the context:
Hamlet: What hour now? Horatio: I think it lacks of twelve. Marcellus: No, it is struck
Horatio: Indeed? I heard it not. The difference lies in that asking the time in Hamlet has a great
literary significance since it is indicating whether or not the ghost is due.
In fact, there is a kind of language that we are more likely to encounter in literature than in ordinary
conversation, and to encounter more frequently. Poetry is the most obvious case, imposing upon
itself strange constraints such as the need of rhyme, or to have ten syllables in a line. When
Jakobson stated the emphasis on the poetic function in literature, he had a concern on the wording.
We can say that all ordinary language may be literary, but some language uses are more literary
than others. We call those places where such uses are dominant literature. What we mean by
literary language is the usage where the wordin g is primary, taking precedence over all other
considerations. Jakobson demonstrates with his model that the language of literature is really
different, even if it is a rearrangement of the same lexis that all language uses work with.


3.3. Literary language and Rethoric.

Then, this lexis is examined in a wide variety of texts whose analysis is carried out within the field
of text linguistics and, in particular, discourse analysis at present and in late antiquity by Rethoric.
In fact, the oldest form of preoccupation with texts and the first foundation for the analysis of texts
and its articulation is drawn from the notion of text linguistics which has its historical roots in
Rethoric, dating from Ancient Greece and Rome through the Middle Ages up to the present under
the name of text linguistics or discourse.
Traditional rethoricians were influenced by their major task of training public orators on the
discovery of ideas (invention), the arrangement of ideas (disposition), the discovery of appropriate
expressions for ideas (elocution), and memorization prior to delivery on the actual occasion of
speaking. In the Middle Ages, rethoric was based on grammar (on the study of formal language
patterns in Greek and Latin) and logic (on the construction of arguments and proofs), hence its
relevance within our study.
Rethoric still shares several concerns with the kind of text linguistics and, in particular, with literary
works since the art of Rethoric (Lat. ars bene dicendi) deals with the use of texts as vehicles of
purposeful interaction (oral and written), the expression and arranging of a given configuration of
ideas, and its disposition within the discourse which still depends on the effects upon the audience.
In late antiquity, early literary texts were considered as communicative discourse acts which
focused on the message. A rethoric corpus was formed by five elements: inventio, dispositio and
elocutio which dealt with the discourse construction and memoria and actio , which dealt with the
discourse act in itself.

3.4. Text linguistics and discourse analysis.

Moreover, this lexis is examined nowadays in a wide variety of texts whose analysis is carried out
within the field of text linguistics and, in particular, discourse analysis In fact, the notion of text
linguistics designates any work in language science devoted to the text as the primary object of
inquiry (Beaugrande & Dressler, 1988). Many fields have approached the study of texts: linguistics
(from grammar, morphology and phonology), anthropology (different speech acts in different

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cultures), psychology (speaker and hearer behaviour) and stylistics (correctness, clarity, elegance,
appropriateness, style).
The term discourse comes into force when we deal with the highest grammatical level of analysis
in the rank scale, that is, paragraphs and texts, which are considered to be larger stretches of
language higher than the sentence (Aarts, 1988). Then we shall deal with a wide range of texts in
order to establish relations of social interaction either in spoken or written language in
communicative events.
Discourse then represents the complex picture of the relations between language and action in
communicative contexts which account for the functions of utterances with underlying textual
structures (van Dijk, 1981). The origins of the term are to be found within the fields of
sociolinguistics and pragmatics, which had a rapid growth in the 1970s: the former confronting with
data and problems of actual language use, the latter introducing the notions of speech acts, felicity
conditions and context.

3.5. Text types: literary texts.

Theories were developed around the debate of literary language and insisted that the best and,
indeed the only, way to study literature was to study the text itself in close detail, and to disregard
anything outside the text itself. So, the literary text contains its own meaning within itself. The texts
will, then, reveal constants, universal truths, about human nature, because human nature itself is
constant and unchanging. It must be borne in mind that the purpose of literature is the enhancement
of life and the propagation of human values.
Hence, the word text in literature is used to refer to any passage, spoken or written, of whatever
length, that does form a unified whole. In addition, two textual devices will give literary texts the
distinctive form and style: texture to give the text coherence with respect to its environment and
secondly, ties so as to contribute to its total unity by means of cohesive relations. But in fact it is
one of the seven standards2 inter textuality that makes a text be literary.

Cohesion, coherence, intentionality and acceptability, informativity, situationality and intertextuality (Beaugrande &
Dressler, 1988).

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Intertextuality concerns the factors which make the use of one text dependent upon knowledge of
one or more previously encountered texts, that is, the ways in which the production and reception of
a given text depends upon the participants knowledge of other texts. The usual mediation is
achieved by means of the development and use of text types, being classes of texts expected to have
certain traits for certain purposes: to narrate, describe , argue, expose and instruct (conversational).
So where are literary texts to be located?
Since text linguists had to develop generic distinctions (from classical lyric, epic and drama) in nonliterary corpora, Kinneavy (1971) distinguishes four aims of discourse modelled on Jakobsons
communicative functions, thus the expressive, the referential, the persuasive and the literary text
type. Among those categories, the literary aims of discourse focus on Jakobsons poetic function
and include text types such as the joke, the film, the TV show besides drama, ballads, the lyric, the
short story, and the like 3 . We must bear in mind that the relationship between text types and genres
is not straightforward since genres reflect differences in external format and text types may be
defined on the basis of cognitive categories (Smith 1985). But what are the main criteria to classify
texts and get to the notion of literary texts?

3.6. On classifying literary texts: main criteria.

For 2,400 years there have been two traditions of classifying texts. The first one, deriving from
Aristotles Rethoric, where the term rethoric refers to the uses of language. More specific, it refers
to modes of discourse realized through text types (narration, description, exposition, argumentation
and dialogic) and to communicative function as rethorical strategies in functional lines (narrative,
descriptive, expository and so on).
By means of this typology, Kinneavy (1971) attempts to establish a number of textual categories
with a common purpose, despite its obvious merits fails to see that most texts of a given genre are
referential as well as persuasive or expressive. Hence we realize that the category of literary texts is
not a clear-cut one and that, narration, description, exposition, argumentation and dialogic types
may be present in literary discourse modes.

Kinneavy (1971) splits the expressive category into two types: individual (conversation, journals, prayers) and social
(manifestos, contracts, myths, religious credos); the referential aim of discourse encompasses exploratory texts (seminars,
dialogues), scientific texts (proving a point by arguing from accepted premises, by generalizing from particular) and

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Since text linguistics, unlike literary scholarship, does not focus primarily on literary texts, linguists
have had to develop a certain number of concepts (fictional vs. non-fictional, factual vs.
imaginative, literary vs. instrumental language, general vs. specific , polysemic vs. monosemic ) to
account for variety in language use (instrumental language) or for the usage of language in specific
situations (literary language ). Then it is relevant to mention those basic principles (or main criteria)
by which all text types are interrelated as literary productions (Esser, 1991):
1. External level.

Here we find informative vs. imaginative writing, where the intention of the
participant is essential to distinguish text types. On the one hand, informative texts
include the field of sciences, arts, commerce and finance, belief and thought,
leisure, antural and pure science, social science and world affairs. On the other
hand, imaginative writing refers to literary and creative works. These types are
further categorised according to other criteria, such as medium, date of publication,
topic and so on. We must point out, though, that the category factual is far wider
thatn informative but often the two seem to be merged. The distinction between
fact and fiction is relevant, but it is a distinction that cuts across others, and
concerns the relation of the utterances to objective reality, and not in the first
instance to their purposes.

2. Internal level.

Since language varies with situation (context), we can identify particular

specialised texts through the specification of certain internal linguistic criteria, that
is, the frequency of lexico-grammatical features (Halliday & Martin, 1993). Often,
this classification begins with external criteria and subsequently focuses on internal
linguistic criteria. For instance, scientific texts are associated with passive
structures, short sentences in form of commands and nominalisations of ing forms
among other features.

In addition, specific scientific and technical vocabulary also determines a kind of

text namely through the distinction polysemic vs. monosemic, that is to say, by
admitting more than one meaning (literary language) or carrying a single meaning
(instrumental language). Literary texts are formed from constituents that are not
always immediately recognizable, such as specific conditions of production,

informative texts (news, articles, textbooks). Finally, the persuasive category includes religious sermons, editorials, and
political or legal oratory.

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contradictory cultural discourses, and intercultural processes. For such reasons,

literary texts may be polysemous, having a range of interpretive possibilities.
However, there are some basic principles of literature which have common
characteristics that make it possible for them to be classified into genres or subtypes.
Therefore, this classification of texts into genres is purely based on both internal and external
criteria (linguistic and non-linguistic criteria, respectively) by giving prominence to the sociological
environment of the text. Actually, Atkins et al. (1992) believe that a corpus selected entirely on
internal criteria would yield no information about the relation between language and its context of
situation. Then, let us examine what literary genres are and their main features.

Chapter 4 will offer then an insightful analysis of literary genres in terms of providing a (1)
linguistic framework for genre; (2) a definition of genre and literary genre; (3) an account of the
main criteria for the classification of genres; and (4) main types; and finally, (5) main features of
genres according to structural features (form, technique and content).

4.1. The context of situation and genre .

As seen above, the terms context and situation are closely related to that of language and literary
texts and therefore, to genre. On the one hand, context means literally accompanying text and it is
defined as the state of affairs of a communicative situation in which communicative events take
place (van Dijk, 1981). A context must have a linguistically relevant set of characteristics for the
formulation, conditions and rules for the adequate use of utterances, for instance, it must be
appropriate andsatisfactory for the given utterance in a literary text. Moreover, the notion of
context is rather static when it is merely used to refer to a state of affairs. Hence we may introduce
the term communicative so that an event may be successful if a given context changes into a
specific new context (i.e. speaking face to face vs. speaking on the phone).

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On the other hand, the term situation means the context of situation in which a text is embedded,
refers to all those extra-linguistic factors which have some bearing on the text itself. These external
factors affect the linguistic choices that the speaker or the writer makes on the basis of the nature of
the audience, the medium, the purpose of the communication and so on. The concept of context of
situation was formulated by Malinowski in 1923 4 and further on, Hymes (1969) categorized the
speech situation in terms of eight components: form and content of text, setting, participants, ends
(intent and effect), key, medium, interactional norms and genre. So, this is the linguistic context
where the concept of genre is located and now, we may follow on defining it.

4.2. On defining genre and literary genre.

The term genre means literally kind of or sort of and comes from the same Latin root as the
word genus. Some other definitions for the term genre are (a) a kind of literary or artistic work;
(b) a style of expressing yourself in writing; and (c) a class of artistic endeavor having a
characteristic from or technique.
Therefore, the concept of literary genre refers to a style of expressing yourself in writing. So,
what do we mean when we talk about literary genres? Literary genres are said to be divisions of
literature into categories or classes which group works by different criteria (form, technique and
content). Among literary genres we may find writing styles such as biographies, fiction or poetry,
essays, drama rather than classifications made by movements such as naturalism, realism,
romanticism or by theme as in legends, myths, short-stories and so on.
Discussions on genre probably began in ancient Greece with Aristotle , and the practice of
distinguishing kinds of texts from each other on the basis of genres has continued uninterrupted
since then. As seen above, dividing literary works into genres is a way of classifying them into
particular categories and many specific text genres have been recognized since Aristotles day:
fiction, essays, newspaper stories, biography, academic writing, advertising and computer writing,
among others.
In fact, nowadays, the concept of genre has to cope not only with new types of docume nts (Internet,
virtual reality, DVDs) abut also with new ways of searching for, retrieving and conveying

It was published in a supplement called The Meaning of Meaning which further developed into a paper called Personality and

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electronic documents. Therefore, the concept of genre is a dynamic issue to help deal with the novel
circumstances and with the proliferation of new products and techniques that support them. Hence,
we may consider the concept of genre as an analytic tool for those new text types not included
under the heading of narrative, description, exposition, instruction and conversation.

4.3. On classifying genres: main criteria.

But what are the main criteria for this classification? Following classical guidelines, literary genres
are strictly determined by the Aristotelian classical typology of lyric (ode, elegy) , epic (novel, tale)
and drama (tragedy, come dy, satire). Still nowadays, this typology establishes the general
characterization of the three main literary genres: lyric, narrative and drama and even, the concept
of genre has also been extended beyond langua ge-based texts, so that we customarily speak of
genres in relation to art, music, dance and other non-verbal methods of human communication.

According to Fludernik (1996), there are three levels on which we may establish a functional
approach to genres. First, the level of macro-genre, which is constituted by the functions of
communication (it corresponds to the external criteria for text types). Secondly, the level of genre,
where traditional genre expectations are operative (it corresponds to the internal criteria for text
types on lexico-grammatical features). Finally, she distinguishes a third level where the discourse
mode works on the surface level of texts. On this level, the function of a descriptive passage, for
instance, enter the schema of the specific genre as a sub-genre (i.e. the genre of art has different
sub-genres painting, drawing, sculpture, engraving- which in turn is divided into further types of
genres. For instance, painting has sub-genres such as landscape, portraiture, still life, nonrepresentional works, caricature).
However, the most relevant criteria lies at the diversity of genres which arises from the multiplicity
of their contexts of use. At the highest level we classify genres in the same way literature is
classified: either fictional or non-fictional types5, but we may add another type: hybrid texts. On the
one hand, fiction types refer to things, events and characters which are not true, and which are
classified according to three guidelines: on the form of the work, technique and content (or theme);
language in society (1950).

This initial subdivision of all texts into fiction and non-fiction comes from C.A. Cutters Rules for a Dictionary Catalog
(1904). According to Cutter, one of the functions of the catalog is to allow the user to choose between literary and

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on the other hand, non-fictional types refer to things, events and characters which are based on
facts; and finally, hybrid texts refer to those texts which are a mutation of different kinds (nonfiction novel, prose poem).

4.4. On classifying genres: main types.

In general, we may find among the fiction types drama, fable, fairy tale, fantasy, fiction, fiction in
verse, folklore, historical fiction, horror, humor, legend, mystery, mythology, poetry, realistic
fiction, science fiction, short story and tall tale, among others. On the other hand, non-fictional
types of genres include biography, autobiography, essay, narrative non-fiction, non-fiction and
speech, among others. And finally, hybrid types include mixed genres such as non-fiction novel,
infomercial, prose poem and docudrama.
Yet, it must be borne in mind that this classification is quite flexible since the concept of genre is a
dynamic issue which deals with the novel circumstances and with the proliferation of new products
and techniques (letter: love letter, business letter, penfriend letter, e-mail). Actually, the necessity of
adding new classes (in particular with hybrid texts) dynamically undermines the stability of the
typology and confounds reader expectations for the contents and structures of the genres. For
instance, we mayhave a crime or mystery story set in the future (science fiction) or in the past
(historical fiction) and still being defined as fantasy.

4.4. Main characteristics of genre types.

Yet, under these premises we shall explore this flexible typology on the basis of main
characteristics and uses of genres regarding individual definitions, contexts, and potential

topical works, that is, between works without topics (i.e. literary works) and works with topics or subjects (i.e. nonliterary, non-fiction).

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1. Fiction genre. Within this type some genres tell us something about
a. the form of the work:

Poetry, which is defined as verse and rhythmic writing with imagery that creates
emotional responses in the reader (Wordsworth, Lord Byron).

Drama (or also called plays), is defined as stories composed in verse or prose, usually
for theatrical perfomance, where conflicts and emotion are expressed through dialogue
and action (Shakespeare, Plato).

Prose (also called ordinary writing) may deal with narrative literary works whose
content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.

Fiction in verse, defined as full-length novels with plot, subplot, theme, major and
minor characters, in which the narrative is presented in (usually blank) verse form.

Folklore, in which the songs, stories, myths, and proverbs of people or folk are
handed down by word of mouth.

b. the technique (layout) and style used:

Picture books, which contains words and pictures.

Game books, which require the reader to problem-solve and actively engage in an
activity while reading.

Novellas or short novels.

Short story, which is much shorter than a novella.

c. and also we find genres which are classified by content and theme:

Adventure stories, whose main theme presents a story full of dynamic and continuous
events around an interesting plot so as to involve the reader in an adventure.

Science fiction, which is a story based on impact of actual, imagined, or potential

science, usually set in the future or on other planets.

Fantasy, which deals with fiction with strange or otherworldy settings or characters. It
is a kind of fiction that invites suspensio of reality.

Crime and mystery is a kind of genre in which fiction deals with the solution of a crime
or the unraveling of secrets (Emily Brontes Wuthering Heights, Jane Austens
Northanger Abbey).

Horror genres are a kind of fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread in both the
characters and the reader.

Romance types deal with events that evoke peaceful and romantic feelings on the part
of the reader and on the part of the characters.

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Human relations is a kind of fiction in whic h human stereotypes come into force with a
moral message (i.e. Charles Dickens Great Expectations).

Historical fiction, which is a story with fictional characters and events in a historical

Fable, which is a narration showing a useful truth, especially in which animals speak as
humans. Also, a legendary and supernatural tale.

A fairy tale, which is a story about fairies or other magical creatures, usually for

Humor, as a fiction full of fun, fancy, and excitement, meant to entertain. It can be
contained in all genres.

A tall tale, which is a humorous story with blatant exaggerations, swaggering heroes
who do the impossible with nonchalance.

Legend, which is a story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, which as a basis in fact
but also includes imaginative material.

Mythology, which is related to legend or traditional narrative, is often based in part on

historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural pehnomena by its symbolism.
It often pertains to the actions of gods.

Realistic fiction is a story that can actually happen and is true to life.

2. Non-fiction genre. Within this type some genres tell us something about

Biography/autobiography, where we find a narrative of a persons life, a true story

about a real person.

Essay, which is a short literary composition that reflects the authors outlook or point.

Non fiction narrrative, where non factual information is presented in a format which
tells the story.

Non fiction genres refer to informational texts dealing with an actual, real-life subject
objective types: news, reports).

Speech, as the public address form of discourse.

3. Hybrid genres. Finally, this type of genre reflects the instability and slipperiness of genres
which change constantly depending on the technological, socia l, political and economic
situation. In this type, the ideal of mutual exclusivity is sacrificed in order to ensure joint
exhaustivity of the classes. This tension between continuity and change is a common one for
information organization and retrieval analysis and systems. So, we may distinguish: non19/ 32

fiction novel, infomercial, prose poem, docudrama, marketing plans, mission statements and
outcome analyses, among others.

Chapter 5 is developed by (1) defining literary criticism; (2) providing an account of the origins and
development of literary criticism throughtout history from (a) ancient times, (b) the Middle Ages
and the Renaissance, (c) the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, (d) the nineteenth century and (e)
the twentieth and twenty-first century. Within the latter part we shall examine the main ways of
criticism such as (i) Structuralism, (ii) Russian Formalism, (iii) New Criticism, (iv) PostStructuralism, (v) Marxist Literary Theories, (vi) Feminist Literary Criticism, and also (vii) other
secondary types of literary criticism.

5.1. On defining literary criticism.

As stated above, aesthetics is concerned with literature from a philosophical point of view, in
relation to the general concepts of art, beauty and value. Hence, literary criticism is in charge of the
objective analysis, interpretation and evaluation of works so as to states their weaknesses and
strengths. One of the main functions of literary criticism is to express the shifts in sensibility that
make such analysis possible and bring literary works to the publics attention. Its relevance has thus
been rather limited, although criticism has drawn on literary works from ancient times up to now.

5.2. On the origins and development of literary criticism.

5.2.1. Ancient times.
Thus, this exhaustive analysis of texts traces back to the ancient Greeks, which were keen on
discussing literary works that focused on the experience of reading.Hence, literary works were
evaluated, described and interpreted according to the meaning and effect they had on the reader.

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Examples of this criticism are first found in Platos Republic and Aristotles Poetics. On the one
hand, Plato depicted the physical world as an imperfect copy of intrascendent ideas and, therefore,
poetry was seen as a mere copy and as an imitation of an imitation and thus thrice removed from
the truth. On the other hand, Aristotle argued that the poet is motivated by a need to imitate and
that such imitation had a civilizing value. He discussed the harmonious disposition of any text under
the power of six elements (plot, thought, diction, character, spectacle and song) which, still
nowadays, have proved adaptable to present genres. Actually, Plato and Aristotles theories of
literature were in disagreement although they both maintained that poetry was mimetic and that it
had a great influence on language.

Further on, the Roman work of Horace (Ars Poetica) and the rethorical works of Cicero and
Quintilian (Institutiones Oratoriae) were reasoned considerations on literary works dealt with every
literary textual device (style, author, sources, setting, characters). They are considered to be the
earliest contributions to literary criticism since they renewed the Platonic argument against poetry
in favour of a theological explanation of the universe. Yet, the first relevant essay on literary
criticism was On the Sublime, written by Caius Cassius Longinus, a Greek philosopher and rhetoric
author (213-273 B.C) which headed the neoplatonic school and stated the first evaluation and
judgement on the art of poetics.

5.2.2. The Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Later on, another relevant critic was Dante who, in the early fourteenth century, wrote his De
Vulgari Eloquentia (1303) regarding the problems of aesthetic , that is, the appropriate language to
be used in poetry. In this way, the Renaissance criticism witnessed the recovery of classical texts
when the principles of Aristotles Poetics were translated into Latin by Giorgio Valla (1498).
Aristotles tradition then developed into an imposing presence behind literary theory and critics
looked to ancient poems and plays so as to keep the laws on art. Other two instances of early
criticism were Puttenhams The Art of English Poesie (1589) and Sidneys Defence of Poesie

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5.2.3. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Further on, for a nearly hundred years, the major critical works showed a tempered enthusiasm and
a sense of propiety and balance since there were attempts to imitate the laws of nature (Popes An
Essay on Criticism, 1711). Literary criticism throughout the 17th and 18th centuries was dominated
by a strict orthodoxy regarding the dramatic unities and genres of Horatian norms. This strict rules
were soon to disappear under the increasing interest in literatures from Greece and Rome and there
was a surprising decline of Neoclassicism.
A new genre was born in the late eighteenth century, the novel. Most of its readers belonged to a
bourgeoisie that had no little use for aristocratic dicta. Emphasis soon shifted from concern,
proportion and moderation to the subjective state of the reader and the author himself. The new kind
of literature was based on non-Aristotelian factors and followed the spirit of the age where the taste
for mysty, sublimit y, graveyard sentiments, medievalism, norse epics and oriental tales aroused in
favour of a new movement: Romanticism.

5.2.4. The nineteenth century.

Romantic writers regarded the writing of poetry as a trascendentally important activity which was
closely related to the creative perception of meaning in the world. Individual passion and an
emphasis on inspiration were key features of this movement that coincided with the emergence of
aesthetics as a separate branch of philosophy. Romantic literary theory was characterized by a great
coherence and intensity and a defence of aesthetic language, as it is shown by Wordsworths Lyrical
Ballads (1800), Coleridges Biographia Literaria (1817), Shelleys Defence of Poetry (1820) and
Poes The Poetic Principle (1850), among others.
Yet, by the late nineteenth century, the Romantic movement became weaker due to the opposite,
realistic and naturalistic view of literature as an exact record of social truth. Scientific positivism
encouraged a neglection of feelings, romanticism and subjectivity towards a criticism based on
facts: logical positivism, first formulated in the work of the French philosopher Auguste Comte,
who published between 1830 and 1842 a monumental Cours de philosophie positive. The aim of
this work was to extend to the arts subjects the methods and principles of the natural sciences.

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What positivism means in literary scholarship is summed up in its most extreme form in the
introductory chapter of the history of English literature by the French scholar Hippolyte Taine,
published in 1863, where Taine stated his famous three-term formula la race, le milieu et le
moment as the causal explanation of texts. His assumptions guided the greater part of European
and American scholarship in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and have been and
still are an important influence on the British academic world as well. In its pure form, positivists
studied literature alomost exclusively in reltion to its factual causes or genesis: the authors life, his
recorded intentions in writing, his immediate social and cultural environment and his sources
(Jefferson & Robey, 1986).

5.2.5. The twentieth and twenty-first century. Structuralism.

Structuralism is a way of thinking about the world which is predominantly concerned with the
perceptions and description of structures. At its simplest, structuralism claims that the nature of
every element in any given situation has no significance by itself, and in fact is determined by all
the other ele ments involved in that situation. The full significance of any entity cannot be perceived
unless and until it is integrated into the structure of which it forms a part. The reason why
linguistics had such importance for literary theory is not just a change of direction in the
development of the discipline. It is also to be found in the contributions to a theory of language of
the Swiss philologist and professor of linguistics Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913).
The implications of this theory are so powerful that the impact of modern linguistics on literary
studies has not been limited to the problems of literary language alone, but has produced new
theories of the nature and organization of literature as a whole and indeed of all social and cultural
life. This theory states that all forms of social and cultural life are seen to be governed by systems of
signs which are either linguistic or analogous to those of language.
In his posthumously work Cours de linguistique gnrale (1911), Saussure proposed that languages
are systems, constituted by signs that are arbitrary and differential. A second postulate proposed an
essential disjunction between the world of reality and the world of language : the signifier and the
signified. He made a crucial distinction be tween langue (the language system) and parole (the

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individual act of communication which the system produces and conditions under literary
productions. Russian Formalism.

The earliest beginnings of Russian Formalism emerged from the meetings, discussions and
publications of two small groups of students (the Opojaz group from Petersburg and the Moscow
Linguistic Circle) in 1914 (with the appearance of Viktor Shklovskys essay on Futurist poetry,
The resurrection of the word). A firm critique to this formalist movement emerged under a name:
Trotsky and his work Literature and Revolution (1923). Then in the 1930s this linguistic
movement was finally suppressed by the Soviets and their intellectual endeavour came to an end.
However, the ideas of Russian Formalism survived in the work of some members of the Prague
Linguistic Circle: Roman Jakobson, Jan Mukrarovsky, and Ren Wellek (they all left Moscow for
Czechoslovakia). The Prague Linguistic Circle viewed literature as a special class of la nguage, and
rested on the assumption that there is a fundamental opposition between literary (or poetical)
language and ordinary language.
Formalism views the primary function of ordinary language as communicating a message or
information by references to the world existing outside of language. In contrast, it views literary
language as self-focused: its function is not to make extrinsic references, but to draw attention to its
own formal features among the linguistic signs. Literature is then subjected to critical analysis by
the sciences of linguistics but also by a type of linguistics different from that adapted to ordinary
discourse because its lawa produce the distinctive features of literariness. An important contribution
was made by Victor Schklovsky (of the Leningrad group) who explained how language tends to
become smooth, unconscious or transparent whereas the work of literature is to defamiliarize
language by a process of making strange the ordinary language.

5.2.5. 3. New Criticism

The twentieth century also saw the appearance of a new literary movement that started in the late
1920s and 1930s and originated with the work of I.A. Richards (Principles of Literary Criticism,

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1924) which had an enormous impact on British criticism. His work, together with that of Eliot, in
reaction to traditional criticism that new critics saw as largely concerned with matters extraneous to
the text (with the biography or psychology of the author, the works relationship to literary history).
In his work (1924), Richards proposed two things that critics did not habitually possess: a theory of
communication and a theory of valuation.
Without these criticism lacks rigour and is unable to justify itself adequately in a world in which the
personal and social utility of the arts is increasingly called into question. So in The Meaning of
Meaning, he pointed out another distinction between two functions of language: the referential and
the emotive one. The referential or symbolic function addresses the use of words to talk about the
objective world (scientific prose)whereas the emotive function uses words to evoke subjective
feelings or attitudes (poetry). Therefore, with this distinction he stressed the difference between
poetry and ordinary discourse.
New Criticism proposed that a work of literary art should be regarded as autonomous, and should
not be judged by reference to considerations beyond itself. For instance, a poem consists less of a
series of referential and verifiable statements about the real world beyond it, than of the
presentation and sophisticated organization of a set of complex experiences in a verbal form
(Jefferson & Robey, 1986). Post-Structuralism.
Post-Structuralism is a reaction to structuralism and works against seeing language as a stable,
closed system. It is a shift from seeing the poem or novel as a close entity, equipped with definite
meanings which it is the critics task to decipher, to seeing literature as irreducibly plural, an
endless play or signifiers which can never be finally summed up to its essence and meaning.
Jacques Derridas paper on Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences
(1966) proved particularly influential in the creation of post-structuralism since he argued against a
structure that could organize the differential play of language. His critique of structuralism heralded
the advent of deconstruction which also critiques the notion of origin since nothing in literature
has any real meaning or truth.

25/ 32 Marxist Literary Theories.

Marxist approaches to literature occupy a wide field. Marxism is a theory of economics, history,
society and revolution before it had much to do with literary theory. Marxism is a living body of
thought and a set of real political practices. Despite their diversity, all Marxist theories of literature
have a simple premise in common: that literature can only be properly understood within a larger
framework of social reality. It treats literature in isolation, divorcing it from society and history.
It is considered to be a sociological approach to literature that viewed works of literature or art as
the products of historical forces that can be analyzed by looking at the materrial conditions in which
they were formed. In Marxis ideology, what we often classify as a world view (such as the
Victorian Age) is actually the articulations of the dominant class. Marxism generally focuses on the
clash between the dominant and repressed classes in any given age and also may encourage art to
imitate what is often termed an objective reality. Feminist Literary Criticism.

The words feminist or feminism are political labels indicating support for the aims of the new
womens movement which emerged in the late 1960s. Feminist Criticism then is a specific kind
of political discourse: a critical and theoretical practice committed to the struggle agains patriarchy
and sexism, not simply a concern for gender in literature, at least not if the latter is presented as no
more than another interesting critical approach on a line with a concern for sea -imagery or
metaphors of war in medieval poetry (Jefferson & Robey, 1986).

Since the 1960s the writings of many women have been rediscovered since early projects in
feminist theory included resurrecting wome ns literature which was never considered or had been
erased over time. These writings were then recollected in large anthologies such as The Norton
Anthology of Literature by Women. However, womens literature did no ensure its prominence: in
order to assess womens writings the amount of preconceptions inherent in a literary canon
dominated by male beliefs and male writers needed to be re-evaluated.
The following works ar just a handful of the many critiques that questioned cultural, sexual,
intellectual and/or psychological stereotypes about women: Betty Friedans The Feminist Mystique

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(1963), Kate Millets Sexual Politics (1970), Teresa de Lauretiss Alice Doesnt: Feminism,
Semiotics, Cinema (1984), Annette Kolodnys The Lay of the Land (1975), Judith Fetterlys The
Resisting Reader (1978) or Elaine Showalters A Literature of Their Own (1977). Other types of literary criticism.

Other types of literary criticism are not considered so relevant as the mentioned above although
they are not less important. So, we shall mention some of them. For instance,

Myth Criticism, which views the genres and individual plot patterns of literature, including
highly sophisticated and realistic works, as recurrences of certain archetypes and essential
mythic formulae.

Psychoanalytic Criticism. This refers to the application of modern psychological principles

(particularly those of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan) to the study of literature.
Pshychoanalytic criticism may focus on the writers psyche, the study of the creative
process, the study of psychological types and principles within works of literature, and the
effects of literature upon its readers.

Existentialism. This is a philosophy promoted especially by Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert

Camus that views each person as an isolated being who is cast into an alien universe, and
conceives the world as possessing no inherent human truth, value, or meaning. Other major
figures include Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Simone de Beauvoir and Karl

Avant-Garde. It means the most forwardly placed troops. This movement sought to
eliminate the distinction between art and life often by introducing elements of mass culture
so as to shock the sensibilities of its audience.

Surrealism was initiated by Andr Breton as a movement with adherence to the

imagination, dreams, the fantastic, and the irrational. It emphasizes absurdity and reflects a
spirit of nihilism by celebrating the function of chance.

Finally, genre criticism is the study of different forms or types of literature. Genre studies
often focus on the characteristics, structures, and conventions attributed to different forms
of literature (novel, short story, poem, drama, film). More recent inquiry in genre criticism
centres on the bias often inherent in genre criticism such as its latent (or overt) racism and

27/ 32


Literary language is one of the most salient aspect of educational activity. In classrooms all kinds of
literary language , either spoken or written, is going on for most of the time. Yet, handling literary
text types is not an end in itself, but a means of achieving the goals of the larger activities that
constitute the object of education. Together with talking, writing and reading, participants should
master these elements to achieve and develop the goals of the activity in which they are engaged: to
write a letter, a short story, a historical account of their city, and so on.
Currently, action research groups attempt to bring about change in classroom learning and teaching
through a focus on literary production under two premises. First, because they believe learning is an
integral aspect of any form of activity and second, because education at all levels must be conceived
in terms of literature. The basis for these assumptions is to be found in an attempt, through the use
of various modes of literary text types and genres, to develop understanding of students shared but
diverse social and physical environment.
Learning involves a process of transformation of participation itself which has far reaching
implications on the role of the teacher in the teaching-learning relationship. This means that literary
genres are an analytic tool and that teachers need to identify the potential contributions and
potential limitations of them before we can make good use of the genre analysis techniques. We
must bear in mind that most students will continue their studies at university and there, they will
have to handle successfully all kind of genres, especially the non-fiction ones such as objective
reports, language for specific purposes (humanistic studies, scientific, technological, etc).
But how do literary texts tie in with the new curriculum? As we stated above, one of the objectives
of teaching the English language is to provide good models of almost any kind of literary writing
for future studies. Following van Ek & Trim (2001), the learners can perform, within the limits of
the resources available to them, those writing (and oral) tasks which adult citizens in general may
wish, or be called upon, to carry out in their private capacity or as members of the general public
when dealing with their future regarding personal and professional life.
Moreover, nowadays new technologies may provide a new direction to language teaching as they
set more appropriate context for students to experience the target culture. Present-day approaches
deal with a communicative competence model in which first, there is an emphasis on significanc e

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over form, and secondly, motivation and involvement are enhanced by means of new technologies.
Literary language and a wide range of genres prove frequent and relevant within the students
environment (i.e. Writing a complaint letter, a report, chatting on the Internet, administrative work
in offices, etc).

The success partly lies in the way the language becomes real to the users, feeling themselves really
in the language. Some of this motivational force is brought about by intervening in authentic
communicative events. Otherwise, we have to recreate as much as possible the whole cultural
environment in the classroom. This is to be achieved within the framework of the European Council
(1998) and, in particular, the Spanish Educational System which establishes a common reference
framework for the teaching of foreign languages where students are intended to carry out several
communication tasks with specific communicative goals within specific contexts and registers (i.e.
write a letter to a friend, office, business enterprise asking for job, etc). Thus, foreign language
activities are provided within the framework of social interaction, personal, professional and
educational fields.
Literary language and the production of literary genres are mentioned as one of the aims of our
current educational system (B.O.E. 2002) and in particular, for students of E.S.O. and Bachillerato
about how to produce a literary text (oral or written): writing a short story, a ghost story, a
biography of their favourite singer, etc). Actually, students are asked to use literary textual features
(lexical choice between formal and informal syntactic structures) when writing fiction and nonfictional texts.
It is stated that students will make use of this competence in a natural and systematic way in order
to achieve the effectiveness of communication through the different communication skills, thus,
productive (oral and written communication), receptive (oral and written comprehension within
verbal and non-verbal codes), and interactional role of a foreign language as a multilingual and
multicultural identity.
Analytic interpretation of texts in all genres should become part of every literary students basic
competence (B.O.E., 2002). There are hidden influences at work beneath the textual surface: these
may be sociocultural, inter and intratextual, or ecological. The literary student has to discover these,
and wherever necessary apply them in further examination. The main aims that our currently

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educational system focuses on are mos tly sociocultural, to facilitate the study of cultural themes, as
our students must be aware of their current social reality within the European framework.

In this study literary texts, genres and criticism have been approached in terms of main types, main
textual features and structure. We may observe that dealing with literary style is not just a linguistic
matter to be developed in the classroom setting; on the contrary, defending our personal point of
view about a current issue enables us to carry out everyday performances which prove essential in
our current society, for instance, from a personal, social, political, professional life, among others.
In present society, establishing interactional exchanges is emphasized by the increasing necessity of
learning a foreign language. As we are now members of the European Community, we need to
communicate with other countries at oral and written levels and we need to use potential methods of
analysis in information contexts as a way to interpret texts, events, ideas, decisions and any human
activity in that domain. Written patterns are given an important role when language learners face the
monumental task of acquiring not only new vocabulary, syntactic patterns, and phonology, but also
discourse competence, sociolinguistic competence, strategic competence, and interactional
To sum up, we may say that literary language is where culture impinges on form and where second
language speakers find their confidence threatened through the diversity of registers, genres and text
types, in particular, literary texts that make up the first language speakers day to day interaction.
Language represents the deepest manifestation of a culture, and peoples values systems, including
those taken over from the group of which they are part, play a substantial role in the way they use
not only their first language but also subsequently acquired ones.
The issues of readerss expectations, classification and culture raised here overlap with each other
and with many other broad literatures (i.e. sociology, linguistics, political science, feminism,
racism, psychology). In recognizing the multifaceted characteristics and problems of genres, we
need to emphasize the variations in genres because that approach will increase the refinement with

30/ 32

which we can identify genres. The continuity or discontinuity of patterns will help professionals do
their work efficiently and effectively.

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