John Keene Discusses "The Elements of Literary Style"

Professor John Keene, of English and African American and African Studies, discusses "the elements of literary style" for LitHub.

Literary style is the material articulation, in whatever genre and form, of an author’s attempt to record their vision, sensibility, and apperception of the world. The more fluid or less fixed the vision, sensibility and apperception, the more fluid and less fixed the style. No style stands outside the history in which it emerges, or outside the political, social and cultural context in which the author deploys it. The further outside history and context we perceive a style to be, the more likely we are to call it antiquated, anachronistic, unusual, unique, alienated, a failure, forward-looking. No style is solely the product of a given author, but a conversation with and response to a vast network of styles that preceded, parallel and follow that of the author. The author is not dead, pace Roland Barthes, but no author ever truly writes alone.