The study of literary style is often regarded as the exclusive province of the literary critic; yet, since verbal and literary expression are types of “behavior” involving the use of linguistic forms in a cultural context, it is apparent that the linguist, the psychologist, and the anthropologist are also concerned with aspects of verbal and literary style. The question then arises: Will interaction between these diverse disciplines result in a clearer understanding of the nature and characteristics of style and the literary process?
Style in Language addresses itself to precisely this question. It is based on the proceedings of a recent conference held at Indiana University, and presents papers and round-table discussion by distinguished representatives of six different disciplines—anthropology, folklore, linguistics, literary criticism, philosophy, and psychology. This conference held under the auspices of the Social Science Research Council, represented the first systematic attempt to bring the resources to bear on such elusive concepts as 'style', 'literature', and 'poetic language'.
As the first work of its kind, Style in Language is important not so much for the answers it provides as for the issues it raises (e.g., the amenability of style and literature to quantitative or scientific analysis). While illustrating basic differences of approach among the various disciplines, the book also explores the possibilities for genuine interdisciniplinary communication—and opens up new areas for future research and speculation. The book includes a wide-ranging bibliography of verbal and literary style.