Poetics refers generally to the theory of literary discourse and specifically to the theory of poetry, although some speakers use the term so broadly as to denote the concept of "literary theory" itself.


Scholar T.V.F. Brogan identifies three major movements in Western poetics over the past 3000 years, beginning with the formalist, objectivist Aristotelian tradition. During the romantic era, poetics tended toward expressionism and emphasized the perceiving subject. The 20th century witnessed a return to the Aristotelian paradigm, followed by trends toward metacriticality, or the establishment of a theory of poetics.[1]

Eastern poetics developed primarily with reference to the lyric, as opposed to the mimetic[1].

In literary criticismEdit

Poetics is distinguished from hermeneutics by its focus not on the meaning of a text, but rather its understanding of how a text's different elements come together and produce certain effects on the reader.[2] Most literary criticism combines poetics and hermeneutics in a single analysis, however one or the other may predominate given the text and the aims of the one doing the reading.

See alsoEdit


  • Ciardi, John (1959). How Does a Poem Mean?. Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press. 
  • Drew, Elizabeth (1933). Discovering Poetry. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 
  • Harmon, William (2003). Classic Writings on Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press. 
  • Hobsbaum, Philip (1996). Metre, Rhythm, and Verse Form. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415122678. 
  • Kinzie, Mary (1999). A Poet's Guide to Poetry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226437396. 
  • Norman, Charles (1962). Poets on Poetry. New York: Collier Books.  Original texts from 8 English poets before the 20th Century and from 8 20th Century Americans.
  • Oliver, Mary (1994). A Poetry Handbook. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co. ISBN 0156724006. 
  • Oliver, Mary (1998). Rules for the Dance. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 039585086x. 
  • Pinsky, Robert (1999). The Sounds of Poetry. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0374526176. 
  • Quinn, Arthur (1993). Figures of Speech. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 1880393026. 


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brogan, T. (1994). The New Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691036724. 
  2. Culler, Jonathan (1997). Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. :

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