Grimwood, Tom ORCID logo ORCID: (2020) Cliché. In: Rabinowitz, Paula, (ed.) Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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A term deriving from the sound of the mechanical printing process able to provide cheap and fast reproductions of literary works, the cliché is at once both a foundation of modern culture, and its constant adversary. Denoting a lack of originality, thought or effort, clichés appear to be the very opposite of literature’s aspirations, and there is no end to the warnings for writers to avoid them at all costs. However, few theorists have spent sustained time detailing the workings of the cliché, outside of criticising their use. Indeed, the cliché seems to resist being thought about too much. At the same time, this resistance to theory can also obscure a range of issues that the cliché raises as a problem for literature. Unpacking these problems suggests that the cliché is not simply an issue of unoriginal thought, but arises from, and is perpetuated by, a number of tensions within the production and circulation of writing itself. These include tensions between artistic worth and literary ownership; between organic creation and technologies of reproduction; between localised communications and universal truth; and concerning the status of the intellectual in relation to the masses, and the place of authenticity in late-modern culture.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Departments: Health and Society Knowledge Exchange (HASKE)
Institute of Health > Psychology and Psychological Therapies
Additional Information: Invited contribution to peer-reviewed encyclopedia.
Depositing User: Tom Grimwood
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2020 10:40
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2024 15:09


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