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 ACC 220 - Stylistics


​This 200-level course in the Rhetoric and Argumentation track takes as its starting point the third of the five canons of rhetoric, elocutio, to focus almost entirely on the persuasive and argumentative properties of style in literature. In this sense, ACC 220 has strong affinities with Arts and Humanities courses and is a good choice for Arts and Humanities majors, especially those with a focus in linguistics and/or literature.

‘Stylistics’ as a discipline attempts to establish principles capable of explaining the particular choices made by writers in their use of language. In modern terms, such a course in rhetoric is often called ‘literary stylistics’, or ‘literary linguistics’, because it involves the study of style primarily in literary texts.  ACC 220 offers students a systematic way of exploring (primarily literary) texts.  Stylistics looks at the language of literary texts and tries to explain how that language creates meaning, style and effect.

Students in this course will be invited to consider the linguistic choices made by literary writers by reflecting on why certain linguistic strategies may be more effective than others in achieving particular interpretive effects.  Attention will also be paid to understanding what we mean when we make judgements about what is or is not ‘effective’, ‘moving’, ‘powerful’, and so forth.  Students will be asked to consider all levels of language from the phonetic to the discoursal. Therefore, an interest in language is crucial to this course. 

Some theoretical issues that will be dealt with will include lexical and syntactic foregrounding, sound & rhythm, conversation and turn-taking strategies in drama, point of view, speech and thought presentation, etc. Students present their own stylistic analyses to the class in small groups and individually.


Dr. Patricia Canning​

Rhetoric and Argumentation


The following course is required in order to take this course:

  • ACC 120 Introduction to Rhetoric and Argumentation

Required for

This course is required in order to take the following course: 

  • ACC 321 Creative Writing

Additional information

This course is particularly beneficial for students with interests in: rhetoric and argumentation, literary studies, language and linguistics.