The ‘indisciplinarity’ of stylistics

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Abstract

This paper aims at showing why the stylistician can be construed as a prolific “impostor” in a most positive sense: pledged to no specific linguistic prophet, she can opt for different theoretical linguistic tools (in the sphere of pragmatics, critical discourse analysis, cognitive grammar, etc.) depending on her object of study and what her research question is. The liberty claimed by the stylistician explains why stylistics is the “undisciplined” child of linguistics, shirking any clear definition of its boundaries. It will be argued that stylistics can only exist as a cross-disciplinary field given its conception of language as fundamentally contextualized. If it was a discipline determined by clear-cut pre-established boundaries, stylistics would be far more “disciplined” but would run the risk of serving only itself. The broad goal of this paper is thus to evince that the “indisciplinarity” of stylistics constitutes its very defining essence. With this aim in mind, it will demonstrate what stylistics owes to other disciplines, what it shares with similar language-based disciplines and what it can offer to other fields or practices of knowledge.

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