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Literary Terms and Definitions: J

This page is under perpetual construction! It was last updated January 5, 2017.

This list is meant to assist, not intimidate. Use it as a touchstone for important concepts and vocabulary that we will cover during the term. Vocabulary terms are listed alphabetically.

[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M]

[N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]

J TEXT, THE (Also called the J Document or the Yahwist Text): In biblical studies, this abbreviation refers to the Yahwist Text in the Hebrew Bible. Click here for more detailed discussion.

JACOBEAN: During the reign of King James I, i.e., between the years 1603-1625. (Jacobus is the Latin form of James, hence Jacobean). Shakespeare wrote his later works in the Jacobean period. Because King James is of the House of Stuart, a synonym for the time period is the Stuart Period. This period is often contrasted with the Elizabethan period.

JARGON: Potentially confusing words and phrases used in an occupation, trade, or field of study. We might speak of medical jargon, sports jargon, pedagogic jargon, police jargon, or military jargon, for instance.

JEST-BOOK: Any collection of jokes or satirical anecdotes, but especially those jokebooks produced in England, Germany, and elsewhere in the 1500s and 1600s. The earliest English example is A Hundred Merry Tales (c. 1526), but The Gests of Skoggan (ca. 1565) is more famous. The contents are typically ribald and involve stereotypical depictions of various races and occupations who are the victims of practical jokes. Compare with facetiae and fabliau.

JIG (possibly from Old French giguer, "to dance, to kick, to gambol"): In Renaissance drama, a jig was a song-and-dance performance by a clown and/or other actors at the conclusion of a play. The dances were often extremely bawdy, which lead to the 1612 English banning of "public jigs" under Puritan influences.

JUNGIAN PSYCHOLOGY: The term refers to the theories of the Swiss psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961). Jung was a student of Freud, but he rejected Freud's ideas of infantile sexuality (i.e., the Oedipal Complex, wish fulfillment, thanatos, etc.) and he held that Freud's psychoanalytic process was too simple, too concrete, and too focused on the individual child's development rather than the collective development of cultures as a whole. Working with the insights from anthropological studies like J. G. Frazer's The Golden Bough (1890-1915), Jung developed an alternative concept called the collective unconscious, a shared collection of transcultural images and symbols known as archetypes that would resonate powerfully within the human psyche. Many potential archetypal images (the maiden, the lost-child in the woods, the deathly figure in black, the hidden king or king-in-disguise and so forth) appear frequently in folklore and fantasy literature as motifs. For instance, consider Aragorn as hidden king, or child-like hobbits lost in the woods in Tolkien's works. The study of how Jungian psychology relates to literature is called archetypal criticism. Note that the <J> is pronounced like a /y/ in Jung's name. For more information, see archetype.


JUSTIFICATION, TYPOGRAPHIC: In printing and typing, the placement of letters and spacing so that the end or beginning of each line is perfectly aligned with one or more margins on that page. A "left-justified margin" (like on this webpage) has the text on the left-hand side aligned perfectly with the left margin and a "ragged right" on the right-hand margin, where a varying amount of blank space finishes each line. A "right-justified margin" is the opposite. It has the text on the right-hand-side aligned perfectly with the right margin and a "ragged left" on the left-hand-side where a varying amount of blank space appears before each line. A "perfectly or fully justified text" has both the left- and right- hand edges of the text perfectly aligned with the margins. This arrangement becomes possible only by slightly altering the spacing betwen every word and every letter in the line or by making minute adjustments in the font size from line to line.

A. C. Baugh suggests that one factor (among many) leading to so much variety in Renaissance spelling was the nature of the printing press. Because early printers liked to perfectly align their pages, they would take advantage of various spellings, double-letters, and optional letters to adjust each line's length.

NB: Students using MLA format should remember that MLA format requires your papers to be written with a left-justified margin--not a fully justified margin on both sides. You can adjust this in Microsoft Word's settings. Your teacher will be annoyed if you use fully justified text, because this will alter the spacing between words in every single line and this makes it much harder to determine correct spacing in your typography.

JUVENALIAN SATIRE: See discussion under satire.

JUVENILE: Publishers use the term juvenile or children's literature to designate books suitable for children, though Joseph Shipley reminds us these are "not necessarily childish books" (345). Typically the main character is either a child or a character with which a child can identify, the themes are aimed at children (and often didactic in nature), and the vocabulary or sentence structure is simple enough for young readers to grasp readily. Samples include Rudyard Kipling's Kim, Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, and R. L. Stevenson's Robinson Crusoe.

JUVENILIA (Latin: "things from youth"): Not to be confused with Juvenalian satire or juvenile literature, above, juvenilia refers to works a famous author or poet wrote while still a child or teenager. These works are typically marked by immaturity in thought and subject-matter as well as a lack of fully developed style, but they serve as interesting contrasts with the adult writings of that creator or illustrations of the writer's development. Examples include Lord Byron's Hours of Idleness (written at perhaps age eighteen or nineteen), Alexander Pope's Pastorals (written at age sixteen), and Dryden's "Upon the Death of Lord Hastings" (written at age eighteen).

JUXTAPOSITION: The arrangement of two or more ideas, characters, actions, settings, phrases, or words side-by-side or in similar narrative moments for the purpose of comparison, contrast, rhetorical effect, suspense, or character development. See also antithesis, bathos, foil, mirror passage, and mirror scene.

[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M]

[N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]

I consulted the following works while preparing this list. I have tried to give credit to specific sources when feasible, but in many cases multiple reference works use the same examples or provide the same dates for common information. Students should examine these resources for more information than these humble webpages provide:

Works Cited:

  • Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 6th edition. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Pub., 1993. [Now superseded by later editions.]
  • ---. "Poetic Forms and Literary Terminology." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 7th edition. Volume 1. New York: Norton, 2000. 2944-61. 2 Vols.
  • Algeo, John and Thomas Pyles. The Origin and Development of the English Language. 5th edition. U.S.A., 2004.
  • Anderson, Douglas. "Note on the Text" in J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. 50th anniversary edition. Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
  • Baugh, A. C. and Thomas Cable. A History of the English Language. 6th edition. Boston: Pearson Publishing, 2013.
  • Brown, Michelle P. Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms. London: The British Library and the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.
  • Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion. [Originally published 1977 as Griechische Religion der archaischen und klassischen Epoche.] Trans. John Raffan. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1985.
  • Carrick, Jake. E-mail interview. 28 April 2016.
  • Catholic University of America Editorial Staff. The New Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: McGraw-Hill. 1967-79.
  • Corbett, Edward P. J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.
  • Crow, Martin and Virginia E. Leland. "A Chronology of Chaucer's Life and Times." As condensed and reproduced in Larry Benson's The Canterbury Tales, Complete. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. xxiii-xxv.
  • Cuddon, J. A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. London: Penguin Books, 1991.
  • Damrosch, David, gen. ed. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 2nd Compact Edition. Volume A. New York: Pearson, 2004. 3 Vols.
  • Deutsch, Babette. Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms. Fourth Edition. New York: Harper and Row, 1974. Reprint as Barnes and Noble Edition, 1981.
  • Drout, Michael D. C. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. New York: Routledge, 2007.
  • Duffy, Seán. Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2005.
  • Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983.
  • Elkhadem, Saad. The York Dictionary Literary Terms and Their Origin: English, French, German, Spanish. York P, 1976.
  • Feeney, Denis. "Introduction." Ovid: Metamorphóses Trans. David Raeburn. London: Penguin Books, 2004.
  • Gabel, John B. and Charles B. Wheeler. The Bible as Literature: An Introduction. New York: Oxford U P, 1986.
  • Giroux, Joan. The Haiku Form. New York: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1974. Reprinted New York: Barnes and Noble, 1999.
  • Greenblatt, Stephen. "Glossary." The Norton Shakespeare: Tragedies. New York: Norton, 1997. 1139-43.
  • Guerin, Wilfred L., et al. "Glossary." A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. 2nd ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1979. 317-29.
  • Harkins, Williams E. Dictionary of Russian Literature. The New Students Outline Series. Patterson, New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams, and Co., 1959.
  • Harvey, Sir Paul and Dorothy Eagle, eds. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969.
  • Holman, C. Hugh. A Handbook to Literature. 3rd edition. New York: The Odyssey Press, 1972.
  • Hopper, Vincent Foster. Medieval Number Symbolism: Its Sources, Meaning, and Influence on Thought and Expression. 1938. Republished Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000.
  • Horobin, Simon. Chaucer's Language. New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2007.
  • Kane, George. The Autobiographical Fallacy in Chaucer and Langland Studies. London: H. K. Lewis, 1965.
  • Lacy, Norris J. The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 1996.
  • Lanham, Richard A. A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms. 2nd edition. Berkeley: U of California P, 1991.
  • Marshall, Jeremy and Fred McDonald. Questions of English. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995.
  • Mawson, C. O. Sylvester and Charles Berlitz. Dictionary of Foreign Terms. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 2nd ed. 1975.
  • McManus, Damian. Ogam Stones At University College Cork. Cork: Cork U P, 2004.
  • Metzger, Bruce M. and Michael D. Coogan, eds. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. New York: Oxford U P, 1993.
  • O'Donoghue, Heather. Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Short Introduction. Malden, MA:Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
  • Page, P.K. "Forward." Hologram. Brick Books, London, Ontario: 1994.
  • Palmer, Donald. Looking At Philosophy: The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter. 2nd edition. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1994.
  • Peck, Harry Thurston. Harper's Dictionary of Clasical Literature and Antiquities. New York: The American Book Company, 1923. 2 vols.
  • Preminger, Alex, and T.V.F. Brogan, et al. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. New York: MJF Books for Princeton University Press, 1993.
  • Perelman, Ch. and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca. The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation. Notre Dame, U of Notre Dame P, 2000.
  • Pound, Ezra. ABC of Reading. New York: Laughlin, 1960..
  • The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989.
  • Quinn, Arthur. Figures of Speech: 60 Ways to Turn a Phrase. Davis, California: Hermagoras P, 1993.
  • Rae, Gail. Guide to Literary Terms. Staten Island, New York: Research and Educational Association, 1998.
  • Roberts, Edgar V. and Henry E. Jacobs. "Glossary of Literary Terms." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 6th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001. 2028-50.
  • Scott, Kathleen L. Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390-1490. A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 6. London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1996. 2 Vols.
  • Shaw, Harry. Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.
  • Shipley, Joseph T. Dictionary of World Literature: Criticism, Forms, Technique. The Philosophical Library. New York: Philosophical Library, 1943.
  • Smith, Richard Upsher, Jr. A Glossary of Terms in Grammar, Rhetoric, and Prosody for Readers of Greek and Latin. Mundelein, Illinois: Bolchazy-Caducci Publishers, Inc., 2011.
  • Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary. 1989.
  • Smith, David P. "Glossary of Grammar Terms." [Miscellaneous handouts made available to students in Basic Greek at Carson-Newman University in the Fall Term of 2006.]
  • Swain, Dwight V. Creating Characters. The Elements of Fiction Writing. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 1990.
  • Velásquez, Lito. E-mail communication. 26 October 2015.
  • Williams, Jerri. "Schemes and Tropes." [Miscellaneous handouts made available to her graduate students at West Texas A & M University in the Fall Term of 1993.]
  • Yasuda, Kenneth. The Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1957.
  • Zenkovsky, Serge A. Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles, and Tales. Rev Ed. New York: Meridian Books, 1974.
  • Zireaux, Paul. E-mail Interview. 21 June 2012.



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Copyright Dr. L. Kip Wheeler 1998-2017. Permission is granted for non-profit, educational, and student reproduction. Last updated January 5, 2017. Contact: kwheeler@cn.edu Please e-mail corrections, suggestions, or comments to help me improve this site. Click here for credits, thanks, and additional copyright information.