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Inferring character from text : attribution theory and foregrounding theory.

Culpeper, Jonathan (1996) Inferring character from text : attribution theory and foregrounding theory. Poetics, 23 (5). pp. 335-361. ISSN 0304-422X

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Abstract

There is at present no theoretical framework that captures the processes involved in literary characterisation. In this paper, I focus on the issue of how and when people infer information about character from a text. Drawing upon work in social psychology, I assess and compare two attribution theories, both of which are designed to explain how we infer aspects of personality in real life situations. In particular, I highlight the apparent mutual incompatibility of these theories. In order to strengthen their theoretical position, I describe how these theories are analogous in particular ways with foregrounding theory, a theory which addresses issues to do with literary interpretation. In drawing this analogy, I demonstrate how the two attribution theories might be reconciled. Finally, I consider the operation of attribution theory in literary texts and demonstrate its power as a descriptive and explanatory framework.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Poetics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Linguistics & English Language
ID Code: 31688
Deposited By: Dr Jonathan Culpeper
Deposited On: 09 Feb 2010 11:44
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 17:00
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/31688

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