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Literary Terms and Definitions: W

This page is under perpetual construction! It was last updated August 15, 2016.


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]

WAKA: A Japanese genre of poetry closely related to the tanka, consisting of alternate five- and seven-syllable lines. The primary difference seems to be that the word waka dates back to the sixth century BCE, while the more familiar terms tanka and uta date back to an eighth-century CE poetry anthology, the Manyoshu. See tanka.

WANDERJAHR (German, "Wander-Year"): A period in a character's life during which she is absent from her normal routine, engaged in thought, travel, and a quest for novel experiences or insight.

WARS OF THE ROSES: An internal English conflict or civil war that lasted from 1455-1487, fought between the families descended from Edward III and the families descended from Henry IV. The event forms the background of Shakespeare's Henry VI plays and Richard III, and strongly influenced Sir Thomas Malory's depiction of King Arthur in Le Morte Darthur as he wrote in 1469-1470. Click here for more discussion.

WARP SPASM: In ancient Irish literature, a beserk battle-rage in which the hero's physical form conventionally transforms into a distorted and grotesque appearance before he enters battle. The most famous examples appear in The Táin Bó Cuailinge, in which the hero Cuchulainn has his joints bend backwards, one eye shrinks inside his skull while the other expands to monstrous size, his lungs and liver flap up into his mouth, fire and smoke boils from his head, and his hair sticks up in spikes sharp enough to impale apples. Along with the warp spasm, the ancient Irish heros conventionally engaged in a number of supernatural battle-feats. Again, The Táin catalogs without much explanation the ones Cuchulainn learned from the warrior-woman Scáthach. The list of skills includes juggling nine apples, "the thunder feat," the feat of the sword-edge, the body-feat, the feat of the heroic salmon-leap, the pole-throw, the use of the gae bolga (a barbed spear), the spurt of seed, the feat of throwing chariot-wheels, the breath-feat, the hero's scream, the stunning shot, and ability to step on spears thrown in flight.

WEAK DECLENSION: In linguistics, a Germanic/Teutonic noun or adjective that changes little from one declension to another. The consonant [n] is prominent in this declension.

WEAK ENDING: In poetry, another term for a feminine ending, in which the last syllable of a metrical line is unstressed. See discussion under meter.

WEAK VERB: In linguistics, a Germanic verb whose principle parts require the addition of a dental suffix--i.e., typically a /d/ or a /t/. Contrast with a strong verb, one whose linguistic principal parts were formed by ablaut of the stem vowel, Examples of a strong verb surviving in modern English would be the verb swim, with forms like swim, swam, swum, as opposed to a weak verb like indicate, indicated, or have indicated.

WEDGE: A diacritical mark used in some Eastern European countries. It indicates a sound like the digraph <ch> in checkers.

WEIGHT: The quality created in a syllable of verse in which that syllable both (a) has heavy stress and (b) has a long vowel that stretches out the duration of time necessary to pronounce that syllable. For instance, consider this line by Tennyson:

God-gifted organ voice of England.

As Babette Deutsch points out, in this line of nine syllables, we have five syllables with heavy stress, and in each case, the vowel is a "long" vowel (193). See quantitative and qualitative meter.

WELL-MADE PLAY (French, "la piece bien faite"): A form of French theater developed in the 1800s. Eugène Scribe and Victorien Sardou popularized it. The well-made play involves secrets and timely arrivals of surprise characters and sudden twists in plot introduced by external threats. In modern critical parlance, the term is considered pejorative and it refers to any overly neat and precisely constructed play, especially one that uses artificial authorial interventions to cause problems for the characters. Well-made plays continued to be popular through the 1950s. A recent example is Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap from 1952. Ibsen's A Doll's House also exhibits traits of the well-made play.

WELTANSCHAUUNG (German, "manner of looking at the world"): The philosophy of an individual, an artist, or a group of like-minded individuals, especially the philosophy concerning one's relationship to civilization. Cf. Weltansicht, below.

WELTANSICHT (German, "world-sight"):The general attitude toward life and reality an individual or character demonstrates. Cf. Weltanschauung, above.

WELTSCHMERZ (German "world-woe"): According to Shipley's Dictionary of World Literature (623), Jean Paul (1763-1825) coined this German phrase to refer to the sentimental pessimism one feels--the sorrow, disillusionment, and discontent one accepts as a part of existence--especially when comingled with egotism, arrogant pride, and cynicism. This attitude is especially prevalent in certain post-Napoleonic German and Italian existential writers including Musset, Leopardi, Platen, and Heine--but it also typifies some English poets/poems such as the poetic speaker in Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (Shipley 632).

WÊN and WU: The two main classes of traditional Chinese drama: civil (wên) and martial (wu). The "script" of these plays is more like a roughly outlined scenario than an actual dramatic text as westerners understand drama. The plays include dialogue in prose and verse, dancing, mime, operatic singing, and acrobatics. Conventionally, the action takes place on a square stage. The subject-matter deals with traditional legends and historical events. The narrative points to a moral, and their setting seems to be a timeless amalgamation of various Chinese periods blended together.

Various props are conventionally simple and may represent various other objects. For instance, a table may represent a wall, an altar, a hill, a judicial bench, or a bridge. To represent wind, characters on the edge of the stage will flap four black flags vigorously. A cap marked with red cloth represents a decapitated head, and so on. Likewise, there are symbol gestures for actors. For example, holding a sleeve up near one's eyes denotes weeping.

Musical accompaniment is done with instruments similar to a Western fiddle, but the orchestra (which also stands on the stage) uses brass percussion instruments. Both actors and singers use falsetto voices, though comedic actors render their lines in basso tones.

There are four types of character in Chinese drama: shêng (general male characters), tan (general female characters), hua-lien (strong vigorous male characters with faces painted like masks), and ch'ou (comedians). Costumes for each role are lavish, adapted from the styles of T'ang, Sung, Yüan, and Ming dynasties. Conventionally, emperors wear red on stage, government officials wear yellow, and so on. The make-up for various characters denotes their personality: yellow face-paint indicates guile; black indicates integrity and honesty; white indicates treachery and deceit; red shows loyalty and courage, and green indicates a character is a demon, brigand, or outlaw. Blue or red beards indicate a creature is a supernatural being, and the length of a character's beard indicates the character's relative status and prestige.

Wên and Wu conventions have had a powerful influence on later forms of Chinese drama. Contrast with No plays and karagöz puppet-theater.

WERGELD: An alternative spelling for wergild. See wergild, below.

WERGILD (Anglo-Saxon, lit. "man-gold," also spelled wergeld): The legal system of many Germanic tribes, including the Anglo-Saxons. This tradition allowed an individual and his family to make amends for a crime by paying a fine known as wergild to the family of another man whom he had injured or killed. The price varied depending upon the nature of the injury and the status of the injured man. Surviving laws of Wihtfrid (8th century CE) show how elaborate the wergild system had become by the ninth century. Wihtfrid included a varying price in silver for each tooth knocked out during a fight. If an individual could not or would not pay the wergild, the injured family was considered within its traditional rights to kill a member of the culprit's family of similar rank and status. This process often led to extended blood-feuds lasting several generations. The concerns of wergild appear prominently in Anglo-Saxon poems such as Beowulf, in which the supernatural predations of the monsters are figured in the legalistic language associated with this practice. See also peace-weaver. NB: Wergild should not be confused with Danegeld, the practice of paying extortive Vikings to go away without attacking.

WERTHERISM: The term comes from the character Werther in Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774) i.e., The Sorrows of Young Werther. In the novella, Werther is a hypersensative, emotional young teenager who ends up committing suicide. Thus, a "Wertherism" is any action, behavior, or attitude reminiscent of Werther--i.e., fits of depression, suicidal urges, hopeless romantic longings, Weltschmerz, or what 21st century American teenagers would call "emo" behavior.

WEST GERMANIC: A sub-branch of the Germanic family of languages including Dutch, English, and German, in contrast with the North Germanic sub-branch (including Old Norse, Norwegian, and Icelandic) and the East Germanic sub-branch (which included the now extinct language of Gothic).

WEST SAXON: The Old English dialect spoken in Wessex.

WESTERN: A literary and cinematic genre marked by numerous conventions. The usual setting is a short main street in a dust-blown frontier village of the American west during the 1800s. Traditionally, the protagonists wear white hats and the antagonists wear black hats. Conventional characters include Mexican bandits, stereotypical Plains Indians bedecked in feathered headresses, a town drunkard, a local madame who assists the protagonist, and so on. Often, the thematic concern is a struggle between law and lawlessness, between communal health and chaotic individualism. Historical accuracy usually comes second place to action, and the dramatic climax often takes the form of a dual or gunfight at high noon. "Spaghetti westerns" are a cinematic subgenre of the western film consisting of those films overseen by Italian directors and filmed completely or partly in Italy--including a large number of Clint Eastwood westerns from the 1960s and 1970s. Recent writers of westerns include Louis Lamour, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, A. B. Guthrie, Conrad Richter, and H. L. Davis.

WHEEL: See under discussion of Bob-and-Wheel.

WHEEL-AND-BOB: Another term for Bob-and-Wheel.

WHIG: In Questions of English, Marshall notes the term Whig originally was an insulting nickname for Scottish Presbyterian rebels, but after 1680 it became a label for the political faction in England that opposed James, Duke of York (James II) as an heir to the throne because of his Roman Catholicism. Eventually, during the time of Swift, Addison, Steele, and Johnson in the 1700s, the terms Tory and Whig became the names of the two major political factions in England. Tories were associated with the Established Chuch of England (the Anglican Church) and conservative country gentry, but the Whigs were associated with religious dissenters (Quakers, anabaptists, Puritans, etc.) and the rising bourgeois class of industrialists wanting political change. In modern British politics, the term Tory today remains informally attached to the Conservative party, but the word Whig has fallen out of political use for the Liberal Party (Marshall 11-12). See also Tory

WHODUNNIT (from English "Who Done It?"): A slang term for a crime-story or mystery novel in which the plot revolves around solving a crime--especially a murder.

WHORF'S HYPOTHESIS: A proposal that language affects how its speakers perceive and react to the world--and that the limitations of language thus become the limitations of human thought. Although first set forward by amateur linguist Benjamin Whorf (i.e., a fire engineer writing in an M.I.T. alumni magazine) and inspired by a false understanding of Inuit (Eskimo) language, this hypothesis has been remarkably influential in cognitive psychology and linguistics. In fiction like George Orwell's 1984, government control of language allows the party to expunge thoughtcrime (illegal ideas) in its dystopian monopoly of intellect. This idea is based largely on Whorf's Hypothesis.

WIDOW: In printing, a widow is a single short line ending a paragraph but separated from the earlier lines in that paragraph by a page break, thus appearing by itself at the top of the next page or column. Widows traditionally should be avoided in printing and in college essays. Luckily for students, writers can avoid such a faux pas by turning on "widow/orphan control" on their word processors. The trick in Microsoft Word is to click on the "format" option and then select "paragraph." Then select "line and page breaks" to find the appropriate option. Contrast with orphan.

WILLING SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF: Temporarily and willingly setting aside our beliefs about reality in order to enjoy the make-believe of a play, a poem, film, or a story. Perfectly intelligent readers can enjoy tall-tales about Pecos Bill roping a whirlwind, or vampires invading a small town in Maine, or frightening alternative histories in which Hitler wins World War II, without being "gullible" or "childish." To do so, however, the audience members must set aside their sense of "what's real" for the duration of the play, or the movie, or the book.

Samuel Coleridge coined the English phrase in Chapter 14 of Biographia Literaria to describe the way a reader is implicitly "asked" to set aside his notions of reality and accept the dramatic conventions of the theater and stage or other fictional work. Coleridge writes:

. . . My endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith (quoted in Cuddon, page 1044).

Coleridge may have been inspired by the French phrase, "cette belle suspension d'esprit de law sceptique" from François de La Mothe le Vayer, or by Ben Jonson's writing where Jonson notes, "To many things a man should owe but a temporary belief, and suspension of his own judgment." Cf. verisimilitude.

WINCHESTER MANUSCRIPT: A handwritten book or manuscript by two scribes containing the text of Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur. Librarian Walter Oakeshott discovered the text in 1934. It had been locked in a safe in the Warden's lodgings of Winchester College. The scholar Lotte Hellinga later demonstrated that the manuscript had been kept in William Caxton's print-shop at the same time that he was working on his 1485 printed edition of Le Morte D'Arthur. The Winchester MS provides additional autobiographical information about Malory. It has different divisions and decorations than the Caxton print, and literally thousands of variant readings. The best facsimile is N. R. Ker's The Winchester Malory: A Facsimile, as published by Oxford University Press in conjunction with the Early English Text Society (Oxford, 1976).

WINE PRIZING: See baade setaee.

WISH FULFILLMENT: In psychoanalytic criticism, wish fulfillment refers to something in literature that satisfies the conscious or subconscious desires of either the creator or the reader of a work. A writer of action adventure stories, for instance, might imagine a male protagonist who is stronger, tougher, younger, and smarter than himself. This protagonist lives a sophisticated life of international intrigue; he woos exotic women and foils evil plots, doing all the things the writer himself cannot do. Readers sharing similar conscious or unconscious fantasies may be attracted to such stories to fulfill their own desires vicariously. Nearly all popular literature has some element of wish fulfillment in it. This phenomenon usually begins with children's literature and fairy tales ("and they lived happily ever after"). Some juvenile fantasy novels offer beautiful and exotic landscapes where the lines between good and evil are always clear and distinct, and where magic allows the characters to participate in or control awesome events. Crime novels may present readers with characters who live outside the constrictions of law and morality in a way the reader cannot. Harlequin romance novels or similar bodice-rippers promise whirlwind romance and steamy sex without unpleasant physical consequences or imperfect enjoyment. Western novels offer unspoiled naturalistic landscapes and lawless terrain far away from the pollution, litter, and legislative restrictions of the modern world.

Aside from popular entertainment, the same element of wish fulfillment can appear in more serious literary works as well. Utopian literature fulfills our desires for a perfect society, even as it critiques the failures of real government. An atheistic critic might argue that religious narratives are another example of wish fulfillment, pointing out that stories of eternal life in paradise for the good fulfills humanity's desire to avoid death, that tales of angels or benevolent spirits fulfill our desires to be loved, protected, and watched over, that descriptions of hell or apocalypse fulfill our desires for all criminals and wrong-doers to be punished and the imperfections of the world wiped away.

Wish fulfillment is not limited to positive desires. Freud speaks of thanatos (the death wish), a subconscious desire to reject life and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The Oedipal complex is a subconscious desire to murder or destroy a father-figure and incestuously take his sexual role with the mother. Through psychological projection, viewers may sublimate destructive desires by placing it on the characters in a tragedy, "enjoying" a healthy orgy of grief and catharsis. Readers may also project their own subconscious impulses toward hateful or forbidden behavior onto the villain, marveling at the antagonist's imaginary crimes and paradoxically reveling in the bad guy's eventual punishment at a safe distance.

Note that clever writers might create characters and imagine these characters with sufficient psychological detail to suggest elements of fictional wish fulfillment in them, as if an imaginary person had psychological depth of her own. For instance, Chaucer creates the fictional Wife of Bath, an aging pilgrim seeking her sixth husband while on pilgrimage. The Wife tells a tale to the other pilgrims. Her narrative includes a fairy tale hag who embodies the desires of the Wife herself. This hag wins the love of a handsome young knight, gains dominance over him in the marriage, and through his love and submission, magically transforms herself into a young woman again. These desires might correspond to the fantasies of the Wife of Bath herself as a fictional storyteller. See also escapist literature.

WIT (from Anglo-Saxon witan, "to know"): In modern vernacular, the word wit refers to elements in a literary work designed to make the audience laugh or feel amused, i.e., the term is used synonymously with humor. In sixteenth-century usage, Renaissance writers thought of wit merely as the intellectual ability to write poetry, as Sir Philip Sidney suggests (Cuddon 1045). In the seventeenth-century usage, usage changed. The term humor then generally referred to broad emotional mood--but wit much more exclusively denotes intellectual originality, ingenuity, and mental acuity--especially in the sense of using paradoxes, making clever verbal expressions, and coining concise or deft phrases. As Alexander Pope put it, "True Wit is Nature to advantage dress'd, / What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd."

The issue of what counted as wit and what did not was a contentious matter for Enlightenment critics and their descendants. For Dryden, Cowley, and Pope, wit was a matter of creating the proper word or proper image to convey an established and accepted idea in a new way--a blending of conservative thought with original expression. Samuel Johnson disagreed, scorning "heterogenous ideas . . . yoked by violence together" (qtd. in Cuddon 1045). Addison in several issues of The Spectator attempts to distinguish between "false" and "true wit," concluding that wit must combine resemblence or recognition with an oppositional surprise. He gives an example of a twist on Petrarchan imagery--"My mistress' bosom is as white as snow--and as cold." Here, the wit comes from a familiar and common Petrachan image referring to the beauty of Laura's snow-white breasts, but he deflates the expected passion by the imagery of her cold response (Shipley 626). Addison goes on to list twelve types of "false wit" that he condemns as intellectually unworthy:

  • shaped verse
  • lipograms
  • rebus
  • echo-verse
  • a poem ringing the changes of a word
  • anagrams
  • acrostics
  • chronograms
  • bouts-rimés
  • double rhymes--i.e. "perfect rhymes" like time/thyme
  • any pun that cannot be translated into another language ("vox et praeterea nihil")
  • witches' prayers or rime brisée--i.e., verse that can be read one way to have one meaning, but which means the opposite when read backward.

For Addison, using any of the above techniques disqualifies one as being a "true wit." Later, William Hazlitt distinguished between "wit" (which he saw as artificial and emotionally sterile intellectual exercises) with "imagination" (which he saw as valid and more worthy originality) (Cuddon 1045). Finally, in the 19th century, wit was associated with a lack of gravity. The Victorian critic Matthew Arnold, for instance, condemned Chaucer and Pope for their "wittiness," their lack of "high seriousness" (1045). Finally, T. S. Eliot swung the pendulum back again, and he rehabilitated the reputation of John Donne, Andrew Marvell, and similar poets in his critical writings because he saw them as figures able to combine wit and seriousness--an assessment most 20th- and early 21st-century critics would uphold (1045).

"WITHIN": In the stage directions for Shakespeare's plays, a "noise within" indicates offstage sound effects such as shouts, drums, and trumpets. These noises were produced typically in the tiring-house.

WORLD ENGLISH: English as used worldwide or internationally and the common features of this international English.

WOUND-RAIN: Also called blood-rain, this is a supernatural motif common in Old Norse sagas in which a rain of blood--sometimes boiling--falls on a ship or field, or, alternatively, an unattended and clean weapon spontaneously begins to drip blood. This motif serves as foreshadowing of coming violence. Old Icelandic literature probably borrowed the motif from Irish sources (see Robert Cook's notes to the Penguin Classics edition of Njal's Saga, page 321).

WRENCHED ACCENT: As Babette Deutsch phrases it, wrenched accent is "The triumph of metrical stress over word accent when the two conflict" (195). Normally, a word like body typically has a strong stress on the first syllable and a weaker stress on the second syllable. However, the overwhelming pattern of surrounding meter can come into conflict with this natural stress pattern and even overwhelm it, as is the case in the last line of this stanza by Rossetti:

"And many's the good gift, Lord Sands,
You've promised oft to me;
But the gift of yours I keep today,
Is the babe in my body."
(qtd. in Deutsch 195)

If you read the passage aloud, you will probably find that a strong impulse moves you to alter the normal accent of the word body so that a heavy stress falls on the final syllable rather than the noraml first syllable. That phenomenon is wrenched accent.

WYNN (or wyn): A letter shape used in writing Middle English. Click here to see an example.

WYRD: Often translated as "fate," wyrd is an Anglo-Saxon term that embodies the concept of inevitability in Old English poetry. Unlike destiny, in which one imagines looking forward into the future to see the outcome of one's life, wyrd appears to be linked to the past. As an example illustrating this difference, a male speaker might claim, "It is my destiny to eat too many hamburgers, develop high cholesterol, and die of a heart attack in Pittsburgh at age fifty-three." The speaker is predicting what will inevitably happen to him, what is fated to occur sometime in the future. On the other hand, one might claim, "It is my wyrd to be born as a Caucasian child to impoverished parents who neglected to feed me properly, so that my health is always bad." In the first case, the speaker describing destiny implies that the future is set, and therefore the outcome of his life is beyond his control. In the second case, the speaker describing wyrd implies that the past is unchangeable, and therefore the current circumstances in which he finds himself are beyond his alteration. In Anglo-Saxon narratives, heroic speakers like Beowulf describe themselves as being "fated" (i.e., having a wyrd) that requires them to act in a certain way. It is Beowulf's wyrd to help King Hrothgar, not because some abstract destiny wills it so, but because in the past, Hrothgar helped Beowulf's father, and it is Beowulf's duty to return that favor. The exact circumstances are beyond Beowulf's control, but Beowulf can choose how he reacts to that "fate." This idea contrasts with the Greek idea of moira.

Although wyrd dies out in Middle English and Early Modern usage, some scholarly speculation has posited that the three "weird" sisters in Macbeth may actually be the three "wyrd" sisters, thus the three fates in an archetypal form.

[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.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
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