Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 2833
Bildungsroman: A novel of education and development, focusing on a protagonist's formative experiences, and deriving critically from eighteenth-century German literature, but since used more widely to describe many other such novels in western and other literatures. Claire Buck argues that the term has “… been appropriated by feminist critics to describe the feminist genre created by European and North American women writers, particularly in the 1970s: the novel of self-development in which the heroine typically moves from being a victim of patriarchy to independence or increased awareness.”1
Constructivism: An artistic movement that developed in post-revolutionary (1917) Russia. Constructivist art was supposed to emerge from industrial experiences and practices, representing the importance of working class peoples and factory-based production techniques. The artist would related intimately to working society, rather than being of a higher, parasitical class. Constructivist art was usually three-dimensional, with painting merging with sculpture, and print or poster-making techniques (mass production) being of great importance.
Counter-Discourse: A type of writing most obviously utilized by postcolonial authors. Counter-discourse means to write back, or against, the values of a dominant cultural and political force. For example, post-colonial writers are usually attempting to resist the values of colonial domination by reconfiguring cultural values, say, with the use of indigenous ritual in a play or returning to more authentic modes of indigenous myth. However, counter-discursive works do not nostalgically try to recover the past: they are usually hybrid works which synthesize indigenous cultures with current-day realities and concerns.
Modernism: An artistic movement that dominated the early twentieth-century. Modernism is a break from past artistic forms, and a re-coding and re-presenting of experience in the modern mechanized and highly urbanized world. The rise of mass production and the brutal mass deaths during the First World War lead in part to a new sensibility and an awareness that the old artistic forms were not adequate; conventional modes of representation were replaced with highly experimental, fragmented approaches such as Cubism and Surrealism.
Poststructuralism: A critical approach which argues that texts are not as unified and self-expressing as was once thought. Texts are usually shown to be composed of structures or arguments at odds with one another, leading to a critical destabilizing or deconstruction. Poststructuralists are more interested in the philosophical implications of their approach, but other critics often start here before moving on to make more political moves.
Stream of Consciousness: A literary technique designed to offer a more accurate description of the mind's interior processes. Stream-of-consciousness is not a completely random sequence of words (unlike the Surrealists use of ‘automatic writing’) but simply a different way of creating causal jumps and links in the flow of a character's thoughts and feelings that seem more like our everyday thought processes.
Claire Buck, ed., Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature, London: Bloomsbury, 1992, p. 344.
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Jewish- and East European-American Bibliography
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