Tropological space: the imaginary space of figuration

Elżbieta Chrzanowska-Kluczewska


The paper is devoted to the concept of tropological space, introduced by Michel Foucault in 1966 and alluded to in Hayden White’s tropics of discourse (1973, 1978, 2000), but never described in any detail in literary semantics or linguistic stylistics. The author presents her theory of a triple functional subdivision of stylistic figures and, consequently, of tropes (micro-, macro- and mega (meta)-level of description) and relates it to a gradually expanding tropological space of particular figures, their chains and groupings within a text. The author postulates that tropological space, the imaginary space created through figuration, is a sub-space of the Wittgensteinian logical space as well as a sub-space of textual / discursive space. Although the discussion refers mostly to literary texts, tropology – a branch of stylistics / poetics / rhetoric makes generalizations valid for the study of all kinds of texts / discourses. Figuration is assumed here to be an inherent feature of conceptual and linguistic expression. Finally, the author raises a methodological query as to the ontological status of tropological space, opting for the approach which treats it as a peculiar kind of semantic space rather than a mere metaphoric term.
The discussion is based mostly on the Anglo-American studies on figuration (K. Burke, H. White, P. de Man, J. Hillis Miller, G. Hartman) that are rooted in the neo-classical rhetoric and writings of G. Vico. This line of thinking draws its philosophical inspiration from the European hermeneutics of P. Ricoeur, the Foucaultian theory of discourses and the Derridean deconstructionist ideas on the operation of language. The author brings additionally into consideration the conception of artistic space propagated by the Russian semiotic tradition and V. N. Toporov (1983/2003) in particular.

Słowa kluczowe: microtropes, macrotropes, mega (meta)tropes, tropological space

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