Literary Glossary: I–L

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Images within a literary work, which serve either as figurative language or as descriptions to evoke the senses. Imagery can be used in a variety of ways -- to create mood, set a tone, or evoke tension, e.g.

EDSITEment Lesson Plans that use "Imagery"

Intercalary Chapters

Chapters inserted into a novel that interrupt the regular narrative flow. They function to describe landscape and setting, and social and historical conditions in which the story is set or technical details relating to the story, etc. Examples of famous texts that use them are Melville's Moby-Dick and Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

EDSITEment Lesson Plans that use Intercalary Chapters


An effect created by a contradiction between what is said and what in context is known to be true.

EDSITEment Lesson Plans that use "Irony"


A kind of metaphor often seen in Anglo-Saxon texts such as Beowulf. From the use of the Old Norse verb kenna 'to know, recognize', kennings can be seen as mini-riddles, in which a compound phrase is used to describe a place or a thing. For example, the "swansrad" ("swan road") is the "sea."

EDSITEment Lesson Plans that use "Kenning"


A usually fictional story handed down over time, often involving some supernatural elements. Legends can be used to explain some element of culture or history, such as a natural phenomenon, or detail the rise of a famous person.

EDSITEment Lesson Plans that use "Legend"


A five-line poem with one couplet (a two-line, rhymed poem) contained inside one triplet (a three-line, rhymed poem). The rhyme pattern is A, A, B, B, A, with lines 1, 2 and 5 forming the triplet, and lines 3 and 4 forming the couplet. Each line of the triplet has three beats, while each line of the couplet has two, such as the following example from Edward Lear:

    There was an Old Man with a beard,
    Who said, 'It is just as I feared!
    Two Owls and a Hen,
    Four Larks and a Wren,
    Have all built their nests in my beard!'

EDSITEment Lesson Plans that use "Limerick"

Local Color

Characterized by remote settings that sometime take on the role of a character in a story. The narrator is often an educated observer from the world beyond who serves as mediator between the rural folk of the tale and the urban audience to whom the tale is directed. Often very little “happens,” but they contain lots of storytelling that revolves around the local community and its unique rituals. Many of these stories share an antipathy to change and nostalgically harken back to a golden age in the past.

Though the terms regionalism and local color are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a distinction. Local color specifically refers to a regionalist form of writing in the United States prominent during the latter part of the 19th century. Regionalism has broader connotations. See the EDSITEment-reviewed Documenting the American South for further discussion.

EDSITEment Lesson Plans that use "Local Color"