Sunday, April 02, 2023

A lesson in defamiliarization from Clint Smith on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert"

Viktor Shklovsky's "Art as Device" (1917) was part of the literary theory course I took in graduate school in 1989, as it is now for English majors at the University of Basel. Although he didn't use Shklovsky's term "defamiliarization" on "Late Night with Stephen Colbert" on Thursday, poet and journalist Clint Smith offered a Shklovskian description of paying attention to a tree you see every day: "You've seen that tree before, but now you see it with a specificity, a granularity, and an intimacy that ... allows you to see it in new ways." That is, a careful description of something familiar can "defamiliarize" it and help you see it anew. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 2 April 2023)


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