Literary Glossary: M

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Magical Realism

A style of literature where fantastical and magical elements are melded within a realistic narrative. These magical elements are explained like normal occurrences using matter-of-fact tone which allows the "fantastic" to be accepted along with “the real” in the same stream of thought.

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Metaphor

A comparison between two seemingly unrelated things, such as the following example from Langston Hughes’ "Dreams":

Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly.

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Extended Metaphor

The term “extended metaphor” refers to a metaphor that is introduced and continues through additional lines in a poem or sections in a literary work. (i.e., Robert Frost uses two roads as an extended metaphor in his poem, “The Road Not Taken.”)

Medieval

A period of time between the 5th century to the 16th century AD; also known as the Middle Ages.

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Meter

A series stressed and unstressed syllables arranged in patterns called feet. Iambic pentameter, for example, is a line with five feet, each of which has one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable, as with this line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130:     My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

The primary types of feet are: Iambic – unstressed, stressed Trochaic – stressed, unstressed Anapestic – unstressed, unstressed, stressed Dactylic – stressed, unstressed, unstressed Metrical lines (the number of feet in a line) are named as follows: One foot: Monometer Two feet: Dimeter Three feet: Trimeter Four feet: Tetrameter Five feet: Pentameter Six feet: Hexameter Seven feet: Heptameter Eight feet: Octameter

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mise-en-scène

Describes all of the production design aspects that go into creating a play or film. The term expresses all the ways the story is being told through visual art. In theatre this encompasses the placement of the actors, lighting, scenery, props, costume, etc. In film, it includes storyboarding the frame and cinematography.

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Modernism

A cultural and artistic movement after World War I characterized by disillusionment with the past and a rampant desire to, in the words of Ezra Pound, "make it new."

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Mythology

A collection of traditional narratives that are passed down through various textual and visual sources and that convey commonly held beliefs in a particular society about natural phenomena, historical events, and proper behavior.

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