Performance stylistics: Deleuze and Guattari, poetry and (corpus) linguistics


  • Kieran O’Halloran
Keywords: corpus linguistics, corpus stylistics, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, poetry, rhizome, stylistics, Web


Taking as stimulus some key ideas of the French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze, and his collaborator the psychoanalyst, Félix Guattari, I demonstrate an alternative interpretative engagement with poetry. In this approach, a poem is seen as an invitation to the reader to be creative via a web-based, interpretative journey which is individual, edifying and refreshing. This approach allows a poem’s obliqueness and suggestiveness to trigger, randomly, knowledge and resources on the world-wide-web that are new for the reader; in turn, these can be used as fresh perspectives on the poem in order to perform it in individual ways, to ‘fill in’ creatively personas and scenarios in the poem. This web-based engagement with a poem involves stylistic analysis.

The web-based element of performance stylistics is centrifugal, taking the reader outside of the poem, travelling from website to website. This centrifugal movement is balanced by a centripetal one which takes the reader into the patterns of the poem. Stylistic analysis meets this centripetal need effectively. Traditionally, stylistic analysis has been used to provide linguistic evidence for interpretation of a literary work. However, influenced by ideas in the work of Deleuze and Guattari, I also use stylistic analysis in a non-traditional way - to mobilise interpretation of a poem. In this article, the poem I use to demonstrate performance stylistics is Robert Frost’s, ‘Putting in the Seed’. Performance stylistics can draw on corpus analysis too.


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Author Biography

Kieran O’Halloran

Kieran O’Halloran is a Reader in Applied Linguistics at King's College, University of London. He is interested in the application of corpus linguistics to discourse analysis - specifically to critical discourse analysis, literary stylistics and argumentation. Publications include Critical Discourse Analysis and Language Cognition (Edinburgh University Press, 2003), Applying English Grammar: Functional and Corpus Approaches (Hodder Arnold, 2004 with Coffin and Hewings), The Art of English: Literary Creativity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006 with Goodman), ‘Researching argumentation in educational contexts: new directions, new methods’ (Special Issue) International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 2008, 31(3) (guest edited with Coffin), and Applied Linguistics Methods: A Reader (Routledge, 2010 with Coffin and Lillis).
How to Cite
O’Halloran, K. (2012). Performance stylistics: Deleuze and Guattari, poetry and (corpus) linguistics. International Journal of English Studies, 12(2), 171–199.