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How Words Make Things Happen - Oxford Scholarship Online
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How Words Make Things Happen

David Bromwich


Sooner or later, our words take on meanings other than we intended. How Words Make Things Happen suggests that the conventional idea of persuasive rhetoric (which assumes a speaker’s control of calculated effects) and the modern idea of literary autonomy (which assumes that “poetry makes nothing happen”) together have produced a misleading account of the relations between words and human action. Words do make things happen. But they cannot be counted on to produce the result they intend. The argument is enriched by examples from speakers and writers of various sorts, with close readings of the ... More

Keywords: persuasion, conviction, belief, thought, feeling, effect, audience, speaker

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780199672790
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199672790.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

David Bromwich, author
Sterling Professor of English, Yale University

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