Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction - Chapter 7, Performative Language Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 7, Performative Language Summary and Analysis

The concept of performative utterance was developed by British philosopher J. L. Austin in the 1950s. He delineated the distinction between constative and performance utterances. An example of a constative performance would be: "I promised to attend your party." It describes a state of affairs and can be proven true or false: Did the person attend? Said as a performance utterance, the same statement would go something like this: "I promise to come to your party." It is declarative and connotes action and cannot be proven true or false—the performance utterance is an act in and of itself. Recognizing performative utterances provides theorists with a measure of how much language performs action as opposed to just writing about them. Ironically, constative utterances can also perform actions.

Performative language helps characterize discourse. Literary performatives create a...

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This section contains 486 words
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Buy the Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction Study Guide
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