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Linguistics with a Small 'I': Toward a Deictic Shift Theory in the Exploration of Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”

Mounir Ben Zid


The interpretation of Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality has been a moot point for several decades and is still notoriously a battleground of interpretative disagreement. Although the poem has been analyzed many times over in accordance with the tenets of different critical approaches, it continues to provide room for controversy. An ancillary to this debate has been the need to re-examine the poem according to the premises and linguistic tools offered by the New Stylistics. The present paper explores the poem from a literary point of view with an attempt to consider the contributions of Humanist Criticism. Then the poem is discussed from a linguistic point of view with a Coup d'essai to explore the contributions of Critical Linguistics. Using linguistics as a slave to criticism rather than its master, the paper proposes a tentative strategy for tackling the poem through deictic shift theory and an examination of relevant linguistic tools, namely: deixis, tense, and aspect and semantic agentivity.

Keywords: Humanist Criticism, Critical Linguistics, Deictic Shift Theory.

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