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Gloss

Author: joe

Wednesday, 06 July, 2011 - 18:50

Today I wrote a glossary for the wellbeing paper I wrote in May, following the comments I got from the reviewers. I had no idea which words to gloss, so I picked the interesting ones; and some were easy to gloss, others were difficult. Here they are.

agency
- the power of acting, or exerting one’s will in order to effect the course of events.
anagnorisis
- Aristotle’s term for ‘recognition’: the crucial moment of realisation in which a person or character either recognises someone’s authentic identity, or senses their own genuine nature, as if for the first time; the discovery or revelation of the truth.
articulation
- more than speaking, to articulate is to be able to connect things and join them together, such as words, sentences, ideas or narrative sequences.
catharsis
- literally, ‘purging’; a term Aristotle borrowed from medicine to refer to the arousal and release of emotion through dramatic narrative.
dialectic
- a heavily burdened word which refers to processes in which divergent views or positions are played out, through argument, conversation, dialogue or conflict, hopefully towards reconciliation; an unfolding of point and counterpoint.
diegesis
- the term borrowed from Greek to refer to the world of a narrative; the internal integrity of the storyworld, which is filled with people, places and customs which belong to that world.
exotopy
- literally meaning ‘outsideness’, this term is used by Mikhail Bakhtin to refer to the ability of an author to ‘speak’ the authentic voices of characters other than their own.
fetishism
- the transference of one’s own agency to a symbolic proxy; e.g. sexual arousal through objects (Freudian fetishism), or allocation of value away from human labour and onto commodities (Marxian commodity fetishism).
hamartia
- mistakes and errors of misrecognition, frequently a crucial element in ancient tragedies whose protagonists often fail to recognise someone they ought to know.
intentionality
- in phenomenology, ‘intentionality’ refers to the ‘directedness’ of conscious experiences: always towards objects, concepts, feelings and perceptions; hence it is related to but not the same as the common understanding which implies purpose and motive.
mimesis
- a Greek term used by Aristotle to refer to the ‘likeness’ of stories to the real world: their imitative capacity.
narratee
- the implied or actual audience to whom a story is directed.
narrative
- at its simplest, a narrative is a telling or re-telling of a series of events which are connected.
narrative configuration
- Louis Mink and Paul Ricoeur use the term ‘configuration’ to refer to the dual act of being able to grasp the different component or sequences of a narrative, while also apprehending the story as a whole, unified structure. Narrators and narratees, authors and readers, writers and audiences, all must be able to see both the figure of the entire story, and the sequences from which it is composed.
polyphony
- a term used by Mikhail Bakhtin to refer to the diversity of languages and voices that are present in the many strata of societies, the different eras of history, or the lines of great literature.
protagonist
- the lead role in the story, the main actor in the drama, the self of the individual’s storyworld.
spect-actor
- Augusto Boal’s terms for the new fusion of spectator and actor he wishes to bring about in both his drama and wider society.
technology of the self
- a term coined by Michel Foucault to refer to the means and techniques by which the self is shaped, both internally by the individual, and externally by influences outside the individual’s control.
unhomeliness
- a neologism created by the translation of Heidegger’s term ‘unheimlich’; I prefer unhomeliness since it implies a non-supernatural lack of a sense of belonging, rather than the word ‘uncanny’ which is sometimes used as a translation.
Verfremdungseffekt
- Brecht’s term for drawing attention to the artifice of dramatic performance - variously translated as ‘defamiliarisation’, ‘estrangement’, ‘alienation’ and ‘distanciation’; a mechanism whereby the illusion of narrative is punctured in order to highlight the highly contingent and constructed nature of stories and their worlds.

Categories: agency, anagnorisis, articulation, catharsis, dialectic, diegesis, exotopy, fetishism, hamartia, intentionality, mimesis, narratee, narrative, narrative configuration, polyphony, protagonist, spect-actor, technology of the self, Verfremdungseffekt,
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