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Keystone English Lit Terms

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Affix:
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One or more letters occurring as a bound form attached to the beginning or end of a word or base and serving to produce a derivative word or an inflectional form (e.g., a prefix or suffix).
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Alliteration:
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The repetition of initial consonant sounds in neighboring words.
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Allusion:
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An implied or indirect reference in literature to a familiar person, place or event.
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Analysis:
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The process or result of identifying the parts of a whole and their relationships to one another.
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Antonym:
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A word that is the opposite of another word (e.g. hot-cold, night-day).
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Author’s Purpose:
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The author’s intent either to inform or teach someone about something, to entertain people, or to persuade or convince their audience to do or not do something.
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Autobiography:
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The story of a person’s life written by himself or herself.
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Bias:
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A judgment based on a personal point of view.
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Biography:
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The story of a person’s life written by someone other than the subject of the work.
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Characterization:
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The method an author uses to reveal characters and their various personalities.
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Climax:
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The turning point in a narrative, the moment when the conflict is at its most intense. Typically, the structure of stories, novels and plays is one of rising action, in which tension builds to the climax.
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Compare/contrast
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Placing together characters, situations or ideas to show common and/or differing features in literary selections.
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Conflict/Problem:
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A struggle or clash between opposing characters, forces, or emotions.
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Context Clues:
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Information from the reading that identifies a word or group of words.
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Dialogue:
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In its widest sense, dialogue is simply conversation between people in a literary work; in its most restricted sense, it refers specifically to the speech of characters in a drama.
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Differentiate:
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Distinguish, tell apart and recognize differences between two or more items.
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Evaluate:
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To examine and to judge carefully.
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Explicit:
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Referring to specific text that is included in the reading passage or in the directions.
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Fiction:
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Any story that is the product of imagination rather than a documentation of fact. Characters and events in such narratives may be based in real life but their ultimate form and configuration is a creation of the author.
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Figurative Language:
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Language that cannot be taken literally since it was written to create a special effect or feeling.
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First Person:
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The “first person” or “personal” point of view relates events as they are perceived by a single character. The main character “tells” the story and may offer opinions about the action and characters that differ from those of the author.
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Flashback:
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A device used in literature to present action that occurred before the beginning of the story. Flashbacks are often introduced as the dreams or recollections of one or more characters.
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Focus:
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The center of interest or attention.
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Foreshadowing:
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A device used in literature to create expectation or to set up an explanation of later developments.
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Generalization:
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A conclusion, drawn from specific information, that is used to make a broad statement about a topic or person.
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Genre:
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A category used to classify literary works, usually by form, technique or content (e.g., prose, poetry).
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Headings, Graphics and Charts:
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Any visual cues on a page of text that offer additional information to guide the reader’s comprehension. Headings typically are words or phrases in bold print that indicate a topic or the theme of a portion of text; graphics may be photographs, drawings, maps or any other pictorial representation; charts (and tables or graphs) condense data into a series of rows, lines or other shortened lists.
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Hyperbole:
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An exaggeration or overstatement (e.g., I was so embarrassed I could have died.).
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Imagery:
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A word or group of words in a literary work which appeal to one or more of the senses: sight, taste, touch, hearing and smell; figurative language. The use of images serves to intensify the impact of the work.
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Implicit:
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Meanings which, though unexpressed in the literal text, may be understood by the reader; implied.
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Inference:
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A judgment based on reasoning rather than on direct or explicit statement. A conclusion based on facts or circumstances; understandings gained by “reading between the lines.”
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Informational Text:
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It is nonfiction, written primarily to convey factual information. Informational texts comprise the majority of printed material adults read (e.g., textbooks, newspapers, reports, directions, brochures, technical manuals, etc.).
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Irony:
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The use of a word or phrase to mean the exact opposite of its literal or usual meaning; incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the expected result.
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Literary Devices:
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Tools used by the author to enliven and provide voice to the writing (e.g., dialogue, alliteration).
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Literary Elements:
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The essential techniques used in literature (e.g., characterization, setting, plot, theme).
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Main Idea:
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The main idea is the author’s central thought; the chief topic of a text expressed or implied in a word or phrase; the topic sentence of a paragraph.
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Metaphor:
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A figure of speech that expresses an idea through the image of another object. Metaphors suggest the essence of the first object by identifying it with certain qualities of the second object. An example is “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun” in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Here, Juliet, the first object, is identified with qualities of the second object, the sun.
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Mood:
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The prevailing emotions of a work or of the author in his or her creation of the work. The mood of a work is not always what might be expected based on its subject matter.
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Multiple-meaning Words:
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Words that have several meanings depending upon how they are used in a sentence.
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Narrative:
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Text which conveys a story or which relates events or dialogue; contrast with expository text.
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Nonfiction:
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Prose writing that is not fictional; designed primarily to explain, argue, instruct, or describe rather than entertain. For the most part, its emphasis is factual.
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Personification:
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An object or abstract idea given human qualities or human form (e.g., Flowers danced about the lawn.).
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Plot:
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The structure of a story. The sequence in which the author arranges events in a story. The structure often includes the rising action, the climax, the falling action and the resolution. The plot may have a protagonist who is opposed by an antagonist, creating what is called conflict.
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Poetry:
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In its broadest sense, writing that aims to present ideas and evoke an emotional experience in the reader through the use of meter, imagery, connotative and concrete words. Some poetry has a carefully constructed structure based on rhythmic patterns. Poetry typically relies on words and expressions that have several layers of meaning (figurative language). It may also make use of the effects of regular rhythm on the ear and may make a strong appeal to the senses through the use of imagery.
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Point of view:
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The position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator’s outlook from which the events are depicted (e.g., first person, third person limited, third person omniscient, etc). The perspective from which a speaker or author recounts a narrative or presents information. The author’s manner in revealing characters, events, and ideas; the vantage point from which a story is told.
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Prefix:
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A Prefixes are groups of letters that can be placed before a word to alter its meaning.
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Propaganda
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Information aimed at positively or negatively influencing the opinions or behaviors of large numbers of people
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Resolution:
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The portion of a story following the climax, in which the conflict is resolved. The resolution of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is neatly summed up in the following sentence: “Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang and everybody smiled.”
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Rising Action:
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The part of a story where the plot becomes increasingly complicated. Rising action leads up to the climax, or turning point.
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Satire:
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A literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness.
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Setting:
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The time and place in which a story unfolds.
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Simile:
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A comparison of two unlike things in which a word of comparison (like or as) is used (e.g., She eats like a bird.).
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Suffix:
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Suffixes are groups of letters placed after a word to modify its meaning or change it into a different word group, from an adjective to an adverb, etc.
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Summarize:
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To capture all the most important parts of the original text (paragraph, story, poem), but express them in a much shorter space, and – as far much as possible – in the readers own words.
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Symbolism:
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A device in literature where an object represents an idea.
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Synonym:
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One of two or more words in a language that have highly similar meanings (e.g., sorrow, grief, sadness).
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Syntax:
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The pattern or structure of word order in sentences, clauses and phrases.
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Text Structure:
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The author’s method of organizing a text.
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Theme:
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A topic of discussion or writing; a major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work.
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Third Person:
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A perspective in literature, the “third person” point of view presents the events of the story from outside of any single character’s perception, much like the omniscient point of view, but the reader must understand the action as it takes place and without any special insight into characters’ minds or motivations.
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Tone:
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The attitude of the author toward the audience and characters (e.g., serious or humorous).
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Voice:
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The fluency, rhythm and liveliness in writing that make it unique to the writer.
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allegory
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A form of extended metaphor in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning may have moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas such as charity, greed, or envy.
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argument/position
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The position or claim the author establishes. Arguments should be supported with valid evidence and reasoning and balanced by the inclusion of counterarguments that illustrate opposing viewpoints.
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character
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A person, animal or inanimate object portrayed in a literary work.
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connotation
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The range of associations that a word or phrase suggests in addition to its dictionary meaning
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cultural significance
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The generally accepted importance of a work representing a given culture.
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defense of a claim
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The generally accepted importance of a work representing a given culture.
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dialect
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A variety of a language distinct from the standard variety in pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary
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diction
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An author’s choice of words, phrases, sentence structures and figurative language, which combine to help create meaning and tone
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drama
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The genre of literature represented by works intended for the stage; a work to be performed by actors on stage, radio, or television; play.
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dramatic script
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The written text of a play, which includes the dialogue between characters, stage directions and often other expository information.
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draw conclusion
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To make a judgment or decision based on reasoning rather than direct or implicit statement
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elements of fiction
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Traits that mark a work as imaginative or narrative discourse (e.g., plot, theme, symbol).
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elements of nonfiction
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Traits that mark a work as reportorial, analytical, informative or argumentative (e.g., facts, data, charts, graphics, headings).
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explain
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To make understandable, plain or clear.
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exposition
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A narrative device, often used at the beginning of a work that provides necessary background information about the characters and their circumstances
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fact
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A piece of information provided objectively, presented as true.
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interpret
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To give reasons through an explanation to convey and represent the meaning or understanding of a text
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key words
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Specific word choices in a text that strongly support the tone, mood, or meaning of the text.
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key/supporting details
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Points of information in a text that strongly support the meaning or tell the story. Statements that define, describe, or otherwise provide information about the topic, theme, or main idea.
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literary form
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The overall structure or shape of a work that frequently follows an established design. Forms may refer to a literary type (narrative, short story) or to patterns of meter, lines, and rhymes (stanza, verse).
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literary movement
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A trend or pattern of shared beliefs or practices that mark an approach to literature (e.g., Realism, Naturalism, Romanticism).
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literary nonfiction
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Text that includes literary elements and devices usually associated with fiction to report on actual persons, places, or events. Examples include nature and travel text, biography, memoir and the essay.
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monologue
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An extended speech spoken by one speaker, either to others or as if alone.
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motif
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A recurring subject, theme, or idea in a literary work.
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narrator
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A person, animal, or thing telling the story or giving an account of something.
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opinion
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A personal view, attitude, or appraisal
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propaganda techniques
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used to influence people to believe, buy or do something.
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name-calling
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propaganda technique; an attack on a person instead of an issue
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bandwagon
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propaganda technique; tries to persuade the reader to do, think or buy something because it is popular or because “everyone” is doing it.
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red herring
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propaganda technique; an attempt to distract the reader with details not relevant to the argument
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emotional appeal
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propaganda technique; tries to persuade the reader by using words that appeal to the reader’s emotions instead of to logic or reason.
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testimonial
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propaganda technique; attempts to persuade the reader by using a famous person to endorse a product or idea (for instance, the celebrity endorsement).
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repetition
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propaganda technique; attempts to persuade the reader by repeating a message over and over again.
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sweeping generalization (stereotyping)
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propaganda technique; makes an oversimplified statement about a group based on limited information.
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circular argument
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propaganda technique; states a conclusion as part of the proof of the argument.
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appeal to numbers, facts, or statistics
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propaganda technique; attempts to persuade the reader by showing how many people think something is true.
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sentence variety
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Various sentence structures, styles, and lengths that can enhance the rhythm of or add emphasis to a piece of text. The presence of multiple sentence structures in a text (simple, complex, compound, compound‐complex) and/or various sentence beginnings (e.g., dependent and independent clauses, phrases, single words)
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sequence of steps
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A literary organizational form that presents the order in which tasks are to be performed.
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soliloquy
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A dramatic speech, revealing inner thoughts and feelings, spoken aloud by one character while alone on the stage.
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sound devices
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Elements of literature that emphasize sound (e.g., assonance, consonance, alliteration, rhyme, onomatopoeia).
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assonance
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the repetition of similar vowels in the stressed syllables of successive words
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consonance
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the repetition of consonants (or consonant patterns) especially at the ends of words
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rhyme
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correspondence in the sounds of two or more lines (especially final sounds)
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onomatopoeia
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a word that imitates the sound it represents
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speaker
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The voice used by an author to tell/narrate a story or poem. The speaker is often a created identity, and should not automatically be equated with the author. See also narrator and point of view.
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stage direction
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A playwright’s written instructions provided in the text of a play about the setting or how the actors are to move and behave in a play.
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structure of poem
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The rhyming pattern, meter, grammar, and imagery used by a poet to convey meaning.
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rhyme scheme
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The pattern of rhyme in a poem
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style
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The author’s choices regarding language, sentence structure, voice, and tone in order to communicate with the reader.
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universal character
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A character that symbolically embodies well‐known meanings and basic human experiences, regardless of when or where he/she lives (e.g., hero, villain, intellectual, dreamer).
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universal significance
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The generally accepted importance or value of a work to represent human experience regardless of culture or time period.
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foot
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A group of syllables constituting a metrical unit of a verse
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meter
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A poetic measure; arrangement of words in regularly measured, patterned, or rhythmic lines or verses
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couplet
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two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme
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quatrain
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A four-line stanza in a poem.
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sonnet
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A fixed form of lyric poetry that consists of fourteen lines, usually written in iambic pentameter. There are two basic types of sonnets, the Italian and the English