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


A movement in art, drama, and literature which sought to objectify and "express" inner experience by rejecting canons of realism and representation. As a literary movement, expressionism flourished in the German theater of the 1920s and concretely dramatized both a Freudian sense of the predominance of the irrational and unconscious in the human mind and a Marxist sense of the alienation of the individual in mass society. Such drama was characterized by antirealistic settings, ni.htmlarish actions, fragmented dialogue, and a general distortion of external reality. The exploitation of a radical stream-of-consciousness technique in those antirealistic novels that dislocate time and logic also falls under the category of expressionism, as does the species of modern poetry that deliberately eliminates connective or transitional passages and juxtaposes images without explanation.

© 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