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Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown


A term used by the Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky to describe the capacity of art to counter the deadening effect of habit and convention by investing the familiar with strangeness and thereby deautomatizing perception. Defamiliarization is not simply a question of perception; it is the essence of "literariness." Calling attention to its techniques and conventions ("baring the device"), literature exposes its autonomy and artificiality by foregrounding and defamiliarizing its devices.

© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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University of Toronto English Library
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Last modified: March 31, 1997