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Alternativity in poetry and drama

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This paper considers the use of alternativity and stance in dramatic and poetic discourse. After a brief look at negation as a phenomenon based on alternative mental spaces, I show how negation can be viewed as ‘intersubjective’. The paper then looks at the intersubjective aspects of negation in a scene from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him). In the next sections, the poetic style of Wislawa Szymborska comes under investigation. In particular, the discussion highlights mechanisms such as frame-evocation, counterfactuality, causation, blending, and the alternativity of or. I argue throughout that the primary role of negation and alternativity in dramatic and poetic discourse is making available uncommunicated mental spaces and construals which are then used in the resulting interpretation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 11, 2010

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