Processing effort and poetic closure

  • Smith (1968) argues that poems may end with formal changes which produce an experience of closure in the reader. I argue that formal changes do not directly cause an experience of closure. Instead, changes in poetic form always demand increased processing effort from the reader, whether they involve new forms, shifts from more to less regular form, or from less to more regular form. I use relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson 1995) to argue that the increased processing effort encourages the reader to formulate rich and relevant thoughts, including the thought "this poem has closure". Closure is thus the content of a thought rather than a type of experience. I further argue that "closure" is a term whose meaning cannot be fully understood, which makes the thought "this poem has closure" into a schematic belief of the kind which Sperber shows has great richness and productivity. This is one of the reasons that the thought "this poem has closure" achieves sufficient relevance to justify the effort put into processing the end of the poem.

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Author:Nigel Fabb
Parent Title (English):International journal of literary linguistics : IJLL
Publisher:Johannes Gutenberg-Universität
Place of publication:Mainz, Germany
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2016
Date of first Publication:2016/09/15
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/11/27
Tag:Closure; Gestalt theory; effort; expectation; metre; poetic form; processing; relevance theory; tension
Page Number:22
First Page:1
Last Page:22
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 41 Linguistik / 410 Linguistik
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:International journal of literary linguistics
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0