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The issue of effectiveness in literature

by David Barnhill last modified Aug 14, 2010 10:10 AM

Different literary styles and different types of writing have different impacts on audiences. How can one assess that impact? The issue of effectiveness in literary writing is very complex – be sure to keep in mind the multiple dimensions. The following distinctions are helpful in recognizing that complexity.

Only by considering these different questions and aspects can you give an overall sense of effectiveness. One result, I think, is an ambiguity -- and humility -- in answering the question: how effective is this writing?

Whose criteria and standards?
* author’s criteria?
* yours?

What type(s) of impact?
* literary interest?
* impact on feelings?
* impact on philosophy of nature?
* impact on political views?
* impact on political activism (writing can change political views but not lead to action, while other writing can drive people to act) ?

What audience(s)?
* How does effectiveness differ among different audiences?
* Could a style and type of writing be ineffective to one audience but effective to another?
* If so, can you make an overall claim of relative effectiveness, or just judge effectiveness to different audiences?

What context(s)?
* Do certain historical, social, and environmental situations alter effectiveness?
* Could a style and type of writing be ineffective in one situation, but highly effective in another (e.g., before and after Carson’s Silent Spring or before and after 9/11)?
* Could a style and type of writing be ineffective now, but effective in the future?

What evidence, argument, and authority support your analysis?

 

 

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by David Barnhill last modified Aug 14, 2010 10:10 AM