less than 1 minute read



is a term which was much used by the Russian Formalists (see formalism), but also has a more general history. It refers to the emphasizing or making visible of particular features of a work, often its specifically literary or formal features. Rhyme foregrounds the possibilities of echoes in language, of clashes and consonances between sound and meaning; jokes foreground the role of play in interpretation; a plot full of coincidences reveals and foregrounds the controlling hand of the author. What is foregrounded—either by the writer or by the reader—is usually what was previously thought to be absent, or only a background element or a technical support system. A film, for example, might foreground the placing of the camera; a painting may foreground the painter's own presence in his or her work. We see the language and the labour, the medium, rather than simply use it or look through it.

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Samuel Foote Biography to Furioso