VIEWS: 139 PAGES: 19

Cognitive Design

• Cognitive Design is defined as the
  crafted impact a piece of writing has on its

• Central to this design are the subject and
  the theme of the work.
Subject & Theme
• The subject is what the work is about.
  Ex. Love

• The theme is the attitude the author has
  taken toward the subject or the
  perspective on that subject.
  Ex. Love hurts

**This attitude or perspective controls the way a
  writer develops his/her work.**
Literary Design Elements
• Literary Design Elements are the ways of
  emphasizing the subject and the theme.

• They include:
  1.   Structure
  2.   Character
  3.   Perspective
  4.   Location
  5.   Tone
  6.   Tropology
  7.   Rhetoric
Design Elements
• Design Elements are not entities in
  themselves. Rather, Literary Design
  Elements work together, often
  overlapping, to help develop the theme.

• When writers write, they do think of the impact
  they have on readers.

• Therefore, they employ these design elements as
  tools to create that thematic impact.
• Yes, sometimes there are happy accidents, things
  of which a writer may not be conscious;
  however, for the most part, a writer works
  extremely hard to use the tools of writing to
  make a central impression on the reader.
• Writers can be compared to real estate agents taking
  perspective buyers through a house.

• Agents decide the order in which their clients see the
  house, emphasizing some aspects and not others.

• Writers can take audiences into their writing
  through the front door, the back door, the basement
  entrance or even through the garage, depending on
  the initial impact they want their “house” to have.
• How they lead their readers from “room” to
  “room” is a conscious decision.

• They want their readers to see, hear, and
  experience their works in a specific way.

**That’s structure – how the writer leads his/her
  reader through a work – visually, aurally,
  and developmentally.
A. Visual Structure:
the way a work looks on the
page (verse & prose)
• indentation of specific lines

• specific types of poetry (sonnets – Petrarchan and
  Shakespearean; limericks)

• stanza breaks and length

• use of specific typefaces; italics; bold; uppercase letters;
  any change of typeface

• line length

• line placement
Visual Structure Con’t
• length of paragraphs (short paragraphs tend to
  make the work choppy; long paragraphs tend to
  make the work feel “dignified” or “academic”

• sections within chapters (denoted by white or black
  space, ******, or other visual dividers)

• chapter breaks

• “books” within books

• acts & scene
Example #1 – Visual Structure

• The following lines from Shakespeare's The Winter‘s
  Tale are heavily enjambed:

     I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
     Commonly are; the want of which vain dew
     Perchance shall dry your pities; but I have
     That honourable grief lodged here which burns
     Worse than tears drown.

Question: What impact does the visual
          structure have on the reader?
Example #1 - Answer

• Answer: Meaning flows as the lines
  progress, and the reader’s eye is forced to
  go on to the next sentence. It can also
  make the reader feel uncomfortable or
  the poem feel like “flow-of-thought” with
  a sensation of urgency or disorder.
Example #2 – Visual Structure

• In contrast, the following lines from Romeo and
  Juliet are completely end-stopped:

     A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
     The sun for sorrow will not show his head.
     Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things.
     Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished.

 ** Each line is formally correspondent with
 a unit of thought — in this case, a clause of a
Questions you should ask yourself
when reading.
1. Why did the writer choose to layout/divide as
   he/she did?

2. What impact does the visual structure have on
   the reader?

3. How does the visual structure complete the
   impact of the work (subject/theme)?
B. Aural Structure:
the way in which the work strikes
the ear (specifically in poetry)
i.      Rhythm
•       the repeated pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables
•       The ‘foot’ is the basic meter of poetry; types of feet include; iambic
•       repetition, alliteration, assonance

    Ex. A line of iambic pentameter is five iambic feet in a row:
      da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM

     ˘ /        ˘     /        ˘    /      ˘ /        ˘     /
    To swell | the gourd, | and plump | the ha- | zel shells

•       Generally, the more feet per line, the more grave or somber the
        line becomes
B. Aural Structure:
the way in which the work strikes
the ear (specifically in poetry)
ii. Rhyme
• acts as a mnemonic, a way for readers to remember the
    poem (e.g. nursery rhymes are simple examples of this)

•   a break in rhyme can signify some importance

•   creates direction for the poem

•   sets up expectation

•   creates an impression that the poem is an artistic
Questions you should ask yourself
when reading.

1. How do the choice and placement of words act
   as a way of emphasizing key concerns (theme)
   in the work?

2. How does the regularity or irregularity of
   rhyme and rhythm control the reader’s
   perception of the theme?
C. Developmental Structure:
the way in which the writer takes
the reader through the work
• order (chronological; argumentative; fragmented;
  starting somewhere other than the beginning and
  using techniques such as flashbacks to tell the

• use of sub-plots

• Ex. Batman Begins – flashbacks of falling in the
  well with bats creates understanding in the viewer.
Questions you should ask yourself
when reading.
1. How has the writer used developmental
   structure to stress theme at the core of the

2. How does the structure interact with the other
   design elements to enhance the theme?

3. What makes the structure hang together – what
   connects the different parts of the plot?

To top