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Verbal Art and Systemic Functional Linguistics

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This book provides an overview of the dialectic of theory and practice through which SFL positions itself as an appliable linguistics with reference to the theory of Verbal Art. A concise history of the linguistic study of literature tout court is sketched, as well as the roots of specifically SFL approaches to it. A detailed theoretical description is given of the emergence of systemic functional stylistics and, in particular, of the overall architecture of Systemic Socio-Semantic Stylistics (SSS), the central descriptive-analytical model created by Ruqaiya Hasan. Subsequently, the correspondences between Hasan’s framework and what Jakobson theorized as the empirical linguistic evidence of his ‘poetic function’, grammatical parallelism, and with what he calls ‘pervasive parallelism’, are delineated and illustrated via the analysis of one poem by D.H. Lawrence, ‘Bei Hennef’ (1913). Further, the teaching of the language in literature with the tools of SFL/SSS is addressed, and a case study of the experience of guiding students towards this ‘special’ register awareness in an undergraduate EFL curriculum in Bologna, Italy is offered.

Aiming to provide as wide-ranging a view of systemic functional stylistics studies as possible, the volume also presents a synopsis of stylistics research wedded to multimodal/multisemiotic, corpus and translation approaches, broaching certain of the many theoretical issues intrinsically entailed. With special attention to Hasan’s stylistic legacy, in closing the author speaks to the future directions systemic functional stylistic studies might take.

Published: Oct 18, 2021


Section Chapter Authors
List of Tables Donna R Miller
List of Figures Donna R Miller
List of Appendices Donna R. Miller
List of Acronyms Donna R Miller
Acknowledgements Donna R Miller
Preliminaries Donna R Miller
Chapter 1
This Discipline Called Stylistics Donna R Miller
Chapter 2
Halliday and Hasan: The Development of their Language-in-Literature Theories and Practices Donna R Miller
Chapter 3
The Case for Slotting Jakobson into SSS Donna R Miller
Chapter 4
Educational Stylistics: SFL/SSS+ and Guiding to Language-in-Literature Literacy Donna R Miller
Chapter 5
Systemic Functional Stylistics and... Donna R Miller
End Matter
Afterwords Donna R Miller
Notes Donna R. Miller
References Donna R. Miller
Name Index Donna R. Miller
Subject Index Donna R. Miller


Donna Miller has written an extremely useful and, in many ways, a remarkable monograph. A highly distinguished professor at the University of Bologna (retired), Miller (Miller and Bayley 2016; Miller 2017) has demonstrated a wide engagement with the description of functional variation across language, languages and text types. Yet, her primary commitment, throughout a prodigious career, has been to understand the functions of verbal art and the ways the study of verbal artistry can be taught effectively and profitably (e.g. Miller and Turci 2007). Her latest book, one of three so far in a series on Key Concepts in Systemic Functional Linguistics, offers readers a concise means of engaging with the paradoxical discipline of Stylistics. The new work includes strands of previously published analyses and arguments along with elaborations of her long-standing commitments to functional variation in language, specifically as variation is theorised by Hasan, the SFL tradition and two major European theories of the earlier twentieth century.
Language, Context and Text