Literary Terms and Their Inventors

Important Literary Terms and Their Inventors

Literary Terms and Their Inventors : As a student of English literature, it is important to get acquainted with the various important literary terms and their inventors and exponents in English literature. The terms have been coined by many renowned writers, critics, thinkers, philosophers, journalists, and scholars.

Some of the literary terms and concepts appeared in the literary magazines and periodicals in English literature in response to the works of art produced by various literary artist.

This blog-post covers many literary terms from modern critical and theoretical literary schools and movements along with their  inventors or founders and their exponents which will be useful for every reader as well as students who derive knowledge and pleasure through English literature.

Without studying these literary terms one fails to understand literature and derive pleasure. The blog-post imparts information of various literary terms taken from traditional drama, versification and rhetoric. The literary terms and their founders are arranged in alphabetical order so that the readers can find them easily which will save their time.


Theatre of absurd: by Martin Esslin in his work “The Theatre of the Absurd” in 1961

Affective Fallacy: W.K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley in their work Verbal Icon, in 1954

Affective Stylistics: Stanley Fish in his essay “Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics” in 1970

Ambiguity (Plurisignation): William Empson in “Seven Types of Ambiguity” in 1930

Anxiety of Influence: Harold Bloom in “The Anxiety of Influence” in 1973

American Renaissance: F.O. Matthiessen in his critical work “American Renaissance” in 1941

Angry Young Men: Leslie Paul in his autobiographical account “Angry Young Man” in 1951

Anti-masque (ante-masque): Ben Jonson

The Great Awakening (1735-1750): Jonathan Edwards

Aga saga: Terence Blacker in “Publishing News” in 1992

Art for art’s sake: Victor Cousin

‘belatedness’: Harold Bloom in ‘The Anxiety of Influence’ in 1973

Black Mountain Poets: Donald Allen in “The New American Poetry”

Bathos: Alexander Pope in a mock critical treatise ‘The Art of Sinking in Poetry’ in 1727

beat’ – Herbert Huncke

‘Beachcomber’: Bevan Lewis in 1919 in the “Daily Express”

Beat Generation: Jack Kerouac

Bildungsroman: Johann Karl Simon Morgenstern

The Blank Generation (Brat Pack) – used by American media for the novelists in 1980s

Broad Church: Arthur Hugh Clough

Carnivalization– Mikhail Bakhtin in “Problem of Dostoevsky’s Poetics” in 1929 and “Rabelais and his World” in 1965

Cockney School– John Lockhart in ‘Blackwood’s Magazine’ in 1817 for Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt, Keats, and Shelley

Chora – Julia Kristeva

Conservative – John Wilson Croker in the ‘Quarterly Review’ in 1830

Contact zone – Mary Louise Pratt

Cubism: Guillaumme Apollinaire in 1911

Cultural materialism – Raymond Williams

Curtal sonnet: Gerard Manley Hopkins in ‘Preface to Poems’ in 1918

Cyberspace (Virtual Space): William Gibson

Decorum: Horace

Dadaism: Hugo Ball

Différance: Jacques Derrida in “Of Grammatology”

Deep structure and surface structure’ – Noam Chomsky

Defamiliarization – Viktor Shklovsky in his essay ‘Art as Technique’ in 1917

discours-histoire: Emile Benvineste in his essay ‘Problèmes de linguistic générale” in 1966

Dissociation of sensibility: Thomas Stearns Eliot in ’The Metaphysical Poets’ (1921)

Physical distance – Edward Bulloughs

dub poetry : Linton Kwesi Johnson

drab: Clive Staples Lewis in his work “English Literature in the 16th century” in 1954

Death of Instinct – Sigmund Freud

Dystopia: John Stuart Mill

Ecocriticism – William Rueckert in 1978

Egotistical sublime: William Wordsworth

Ego-Futurism”: Igor Severyanin

Euphuism: John Lyly in ‘The Anatomy of Wit’ in 1578

English Utilitarianism: John Biddle

ethnoscapes: Arjun Appadurai

‘elan vital’ (vital impulse) – Henri Bergson

Fanzines – by Russ Chauvenet, a great fan of science fiction in 1941

the fantastic‘- Tzvetan Todorov in his work “Introduction à la literature fantastique” in 1970

ficelle {puppet strings} – Henry James

foregrounding: Jan Mukařovský

Four Ages of Poetry: Thomas Love Peacock (1820) – iron, gold, silver and brass

flat and round character: E.M. Forster in his work “Aspects of the Novel” in 1927

Flower-power: Allen Ginsberg

‘Folklore’: the term introduced by William J. Thoms in an article in the periodical “Athenaeum” in 1846

Fleshly School of Poetry: by Robert Buchanan under a pseudonym Thomas Maitland in “TheContemporary Review” in 1846

fabulation: by Robert Scholes in “The Fabulators” in 1967

Fauvism: Louis Vauxcelles

Futurism: Filippo Tommaso Marinetti

‘generative grammar’: Noam Chomsky- Syntactic Structures

‘gestus’: Bertolt Brecht

golden:  C. S. Lewis

grand narratives: Jean Francois Lyotard

grundyism: (extreme moral rigidity) – Thomas Mortan

gonzo journalism: Hunter S. Thompson

Gothic: John Giorgio Vasari

‘the gilded age’: Mark Twain and C.D. Warner

Hegemony – Antonio Gramsci

high comedy – George Meredith- The Idea of Comedy

horizon of expectations– Hans Robert Jauss – Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory

Illocutionary act: J. L. Austin in How to Do Things with Words

‘implicature’: H.P. Grice

implied author: Wayne C. Booth- The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961)

implied reader: Wolfgang Iser: ‘The Implied Reader’ (1974) and ‘The Act of Reading’

imagined communities: Benedict Anderson

‘Id, ego, super-ego, libido’: Sigmund Freud

infrahistoria: Francis Gummere – The Popular Ballad

Imagism: Hilda Doolittle and Ezra Pound

Intentional fallacy: W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe C Beardsley in Verbal Icon 1954

Intertexuality: Julia Kristeva in her two essays ‘The Bounded Text’ and ‘Word Dialogue and Novel’ in 1966

Ideogramic method: Ezra Pound

Ido: Louis Couturat

Incremental repetition: Francis Gummere – The Popular Ballad

Jabberwocky: Lewis Carroll

‘Jungle English’ (Dolichologia): A.P. Herbert

Kailyard School: J.M. Miller

Lake Poets or Lakers: Francis Jeffrey in the ‘Edinburgh Review

Langue and parole: Ferdinand de Saussure

League of Nations: G.L. Dickinson

leit motif: (leading motif): Hans Von Wolzugen

lisible (readerly) and scriptible (writerly): Roland Barthes- S/Z (1970)

literati: Robert Burton

Lost Generation: Gertrude Stein: (for the writers during the First World War)

magic realism: Franz Roh

maker (poet): Sir Philip Sidney – Defence of Poetry

Mac-sp-au-n-day: Roy Campbell in his “Talking Bronco” which denotes four great poets of the Auden Group namely, Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender, Wystan Hugh Auden, and Cecil Day Lewis in 1946

Malapropism: Richard Brinsley Sheridan – The Rivals

Martian: James Fenton

Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill

metaphysical: William Drummond

metatheatre: Lionel Abel

modernismo: Ruben Dario

Martian: Craig Raine

Marginalia: S T Coleridge

Mirror stage: Jacques Lacan

Muckrakers: Theodore Roosevelt

The Movement: J.D. Scott

The morality of the slave: Friedrich Nietzsche

narratee: Gerald Prince

negative capability: John Keats in a Letter to George and Thomas Keats

negritude: Aime Cesaire and L. S. Senghor

nihilism: Turgenev in “Fathers and Sons”

new woman:  Maria Louise Ramé {OUIDA}

newspeak‘: George Orwell

New Negro: Alaine Locke

‘Objective Correlative’: Thomas Stearns Eliot in his essay, ”Hamlet and his Problems” in 1919

Orature’: Ngugi wa Thiango

‘organic form’: S.T. Coleridge

Oedipus complex: Sigmund Freud

Orphism, or Orphic Cubism: Guillaumme Apollinaire in 1912

pathetic fallacy: John Ruskin- Modern Painters (1856)

philistine (middle class), barbarians (land-lords), and populace (lower class): Matthew Arnold in “Culture and Anarchy” (1869)

poete maudit ( accursed poet): Paul Verlaine

poetic justice: Thomas Rymer in “The Tragedies of the Last Age Considered” (1678)

The Problem plays: Fredrick S. Boas in his work “Shakespeare and His Predecessors” in relation to Shakespearean problem plays

Problem plays: Sydney Grundy used this term in relation to intellectual drama of the nineties in disparaging sense

Proletcult {Proletkult}: Alexander A. Bogdanov

Purple patch: Horace in “Ars Poetica”

Pandemonium: John Milton

Panopticon: Jeremy Bentham

Pantisocracy: S.T. Coleridge and Robert Southey

Pragmatism: William James and Stanley Fish

Provincializing Europe: Dipesh Chakravarty

Pantheist: John Toland

Pylon boys/ poets: Cyril Connolly

roman fleuve‘: river novel: Romain Rolland

Robotics: Isaac Asimov in a series of stories published in the journal “Astounding Science Fiction” in the 1940s

Romantic: Schlegel

Satanic School: Robert Southey in “A Vision of Judgement” (1821)

Spasmodic School: Charles Kingsley

Stream of consciousness: William James in “Principles of Psychology” (1890)

Sublime: Longinus

Super-structuralism: Richard Harland

Surfiction: Raymond Federman in “Surfiction: Fiction Now and Tomorrow”

Surrealism: Guillaumme Apollinaire in 1917

Super-realism: Guillaume Apollinaire

Sweetness and Light: Matthew Arnold in his work “Culture and Anarchy” (1869). It has been derived from Jonathan Swift’s ‘Battle of the Books’ 1697

Structure and Texture: John Crowe Ransom

Sturm and Drang (Storm and Stress): Friedrich M W Klinger

Speculative fiction: Robert A. Heinlein

Synaesthesia (perceiving together): Jules Millet

Subjective idealism: Johann G. Fichte

‘She Tragedies’: Nicholas Rowe

Superman: Friedrich Nietzsche

Simulacrum: Jean Baudrillard

Survival of the fittest‘: Alfred Russell Wallace

Tabula rasa: John Locke

Tenor and vehicle: I.A. Richards

Touchstone: Matthew Arnold

Tension: Alan Tate

Ten-year-test: Cyril Connolly

Theatre of Catastrophe: Howard Barker

Theatre Laboratory: Jerzy Grotowsky

Theatre Libre: Andre Leonard Antoine in 1887, Paris

Theatre of Cruelty: Antonin Artaud

Theatre of Oppressed: Augusto Boal

Theatre of Panic: Fernando Arrabal

Theatre of Silence: Theatre of the Unspoken: Jean Jacques Bernard

Third Theatre: Odin Teatret: Eugenio Barba in 1964

Third culture: F.R. Lewis

Third space: Edward Soja

Total Theatre: Walter Gropius

Touchstone Method: Matthew Arnold in “The Study of Poetry” in 1880

Transposition: Sigmund Freud in relation to intertexuality

Tropism: Nathalie Sarraute

Tubism“: Louis Vauxcelles

Tumbling verse: James VI (Scotland)

The uncanny: Sigmund Freud

Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham

University Wits: George Saintsbury

Volapuk (artificial international language): J.M. Schleyer (1879)

Verismo: Giovanni Verga

Virtual reality: Damien Broderick in the ‘Judas Mandala’

Vorticism: a term coined by Ezra Pound

Well-made plays: Eugene Scribe

Weltliterature (World literature): Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Wertherrism: Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Willing suspension of disbelief: Coleridge (Biographia Literaria XIV)

Womanism: Alice Walker in her novel “Colour Purple’

Xanaduism: John Livingston Lowes

The information about the literary terms and their inventors will be useful for students while pursuing various competitive exams. Many readers will definitely get help and come to know about the coinage of these literary terms and concepts related to literature and criticism.

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