Hashem, p 1

Written by: Hashem, Doaa Alaa
Presented to: Prof. Etaf Elbana
English Literature Pre-MA, 2013 – 2014 class
June, 2014
Bakhtin's Heteroglossia
Bakhtin's concepts and theories have a great influence on how the novel as a genre is
viewed. One of his most important theories concerning the stylistics of the novel is
heteroglossia. Though he believes that this concept is mainly a feature of fiction, yet some of
Dickinson's poems display it brilliantly. This paper aims at introducing Bakhtin's
Heteroglossia with a brief heteroglot reading of Emily Dickinson's Cerebral Poetry.
According to Holquist who translated and edited Bakhtin's The Dialogic Imagination,
Bakhtin belongs to an old noble but poor family. Robinson also states that he is:
"one of the most important theorists of discourse in the twentieth century. He is
sometimes termed the most important Soviet thinker in the social sciences. His work
also has substantial importance for issues of political resistance. Working under the
shadow of Stalinism, he [has] certainly [been] a controversial figure. … According to
Michael Holquist, Bakhtin is a system-builder, but not in the sense of methodological
closure. Rather, his system consists of open-ended connections, and refuses to view
issues in isolation." (Robinson, 1)
There are some key terms that apply to most of Bakhtin's concepts. An
'Utterance' or 'Word' is:
"the main unit of meaning (not abstract sentences out of context), and is formed
through a speaker's relation to Otherness (other people, others' words and expressions,
and the lived cultural world in time and place). A 'word' is therefore always already

" (Irvine. within this dialogue or new context. in anticipation of an answer. say. Bakhtin states that hybrid utterance is "mixing. naïve mixing in everyday speech … [Intentional h]ybridization is the peculiar of prose" (Bakhtin. by social differentiation or by some other factor" (Bakhtin. 1) Bakhtin's belief in "constant dialogue" led him to theorize on his concept of Heteroglossia. Each of us is uniquely addressed in our particular place in the world. on the other hand the chief process of language development. 358). 429) Bakhtin believes we "are always in dialogue. an utterance/ word always targets an addressee. One can see one’s exterior only through others’ perspectives. an encounter. edited by Michael Holquist. form new meanings that interconnect with past and future contexts. even if this addressee is oneself. translated by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist" (Dentith.. Everything ‘addresses’ us in a certain sense.. 1) . Hybridization is intentional as an artistic device in the novel. two or more different linguistic consciousnesses. "unlike. not only with other people. within a single concrete utterance . He also defines hybridization as "a mixture of two social languages within the limits of a single utterance.Hashem. Utterances or words. p 2 embedded in a history of expressions by others in a chain of ongoing cultural and political moments. He coined the term "in the essay “Discourse in the Novel” (published in English in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. 429)." (Robinson. 1) According to Bakhtin. within the arena of an utterance. but also with everything in the world. often widely separated in time and social space. Unintentional "naïve mixing in everyday speech" is. separated from one another by an epoch." (Bakhtin. between two different linguistic consciousnesses.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines Heteroglossia as “a diversity of voices. Because of this extra linguistic meaning.e. which aids socio-political as well as cultural centralization. rather it is a 'world view' ensuring mutual understanding in all spheres of ideological life. circle of friends. geographical region. languages are incapable of neutrality. "the language[s] and the inherent ideologies of our profession. 1) Bakhtin contrasts heteroglossia to monoglossia. To further clarify what Bakhtin means by heteroglossia. etc. (Dentith. This master language is not a system of abstract categories. Both are "central terms in Mikhail Bakhtin's linguistic philosophy. or points of view in a literary work and especially a novel. it "alludes to the multiplicity of languages within the apparent unity of any national language"." (Atchison.Hashem. a lingua franca of . there is a constant tension between the "distinct varieties" of ideologies and points of view. Bakhtin associates monoglossia with the development of a 'unitary master language'. and ideological positioning giv[ing] additional meaning to words beyond their strict literary definition.… Bakhtin postulates that the linguistic community is inmeshed in a continuous struggle between two tendencies." (Park-Fuller. 1) Thus. The term heteroglossia describes the coexistence of distinct varieties within a single “linguistic code”. 1) i. of the decade. Example of monoglossic master languages would be: a national language. styles of discourse. family. of our social class. p 3 Heteroglossia is taken from the Greek heter = different and glōssa = tongue or language. the language and inherent ideologies of our age group. perspective. 'monoglossia' and 'heteroglossia'.”( Merriam-Webster) Atchison states that the concept of heteroglossia: "refers to the aspects of a language … such as evaluation.

while prose … often deliberately intensifies difference between them. However. names the stratification of social languages and the ongoing development of generational. he considered its use in literary prose as artistic failure. on the other hand. gives them embodied representation and dialogically opposes them to one another in unresolvable dialogues" (Bakhtin.Hashem. and Orwell's 'Newspeak' in the novel 1984. particularly epic poetry. the literary languages of a culture. Bakhtin "list[s] the basic types of compositional-stylistic unities into which the novelistic whole usually breaks down: (1)Direct authorial literary-artistic narration (in all its divers variants) (2)Stylization of the various forms of oral everyday narration … (3)Stylization of the various forms of written semiliterary (written) everyday narration (the letter. while the latter is composed of several heterogeneous stylistic unities that combine to form the stylistic system of the novel" (Jessenberger.) . the diary.e. he differentiated between prose and poetry. The former are [fully developed. 284 . considering the latter's traditional stylistics as inherently monoglossic. He insists that "Poetry depersonalizes "days" in language. mathematics. p 4 diplomacy or international meetings. logic and other idioms of calculation. finalized. professional and other forms of social differentiation. The centrifugal movement of heteroglossia stands in constant tension with the centripetal and homogenizing movement of monoglossia. 'Heteroglossia'.85) As Bakhtin believed that monoglossia is mainly the language of the state." (Protevi.] single languaged and single styled. 1) which Bakhtin considers to be still developing and unfinalized. etc. i. 291) Bakhtin "insists on a fundamental stylistic difference between the poetic genres and the novel.

exaggeration. even of the hour … this internal stratification present in every language … is the indispensable prerequisite for the novel as a genre. philosophical or scientific statements. languages of generation and age group. letters.Hashem. professional jargon. diaries. artistically organized. 262 – 63) The author does not just present these "different strata" of the same language through his novel and allow them to mesh together as they will. characteristic group behavior. the author objectifies this “common view”. He does that by creating a "dialogue" between the “different strata” of language so as to allow the readers to identify them clearly. ethnographic descriptions. memoranda and so forth). languages of authorities. (2) The incorporated languages and the . and so on. languages that serve the specific sociopolitical purposes of the day. poetry. oratory. He organizes and orchestrates them to display a “common view” to the reader. such as journalism. 262) Bakhtin considers heteroglossia as the prerequisite feature of the novel as a genre: "The novel can be defined as … [a] diversity of languages and a diversity of individual voices. Bakhtin states that there are two typical attributes that identify the incorporation of heteroglossia in the comic novel: (1) Incorporated in the novel are a multiplicity of different languages and verbal-ideological belief systems…. He then links this “common view” to other “different strata” of language through incorporating different genres in his novel. distancing himself from it through parody. etc. tendentious languages. (5)The stylistically individualized speech of characters" (Bakhtin. generic languages." (Bakhtin. The internal stratification of any single national language into social dialects. However. of various circles and of passing fashions. p 5 (4)Various forms of literary but extra-artistic authorial speech (moral.

shot through with intentions and accents" (Bakhtin. are unmasked and destroyed as something false [and] hypocritical. as in many other aspects. for a "word does not exist in a neutral and impersonal language … but rather it exists in other people's mouths." Double-voiced discourse according to Bakhtin is "…'another's speech in another's language'. while of course utilized to refract the author's intentions. 311) Thus. which means: there are two voices." (Jessenberger. (Jessenberger. that of characters. serving other people's . two meanings and two expressions. examples would be comic or ironic discourse or parody. in a refracted way. as the main organizer of this conflict: "… [T]he author takes someone else's direct discourse and infuses it with authorial intentions and consciousness keeping at the same time the original speaker’s intention …. 293). to introduce more expressive intentions and to develop idea of heteroglossia. conditionally. 2) In this. a doctor would use medical terms even in casual conversations). it is as if they actually hold a conversation with each other. According to Bakhtin. Heteroglossia is related to dialogism. In his view. in other people's contexts. 2) According to Bakhtin. each "different strata" of language speaks of a different perspective of the world through meaning and context. the stylistics of the novel as a genre depend on its orchestration of the coexistence and conflict between different discourse. characters reflect their personal vision of their ideological world through their discourse (for example. narrators or even author. They are then "unmasked and destroyed as something false [and] hypocritical. Hence there are no "neutral" words. Bakhtin mentions that double-voiced discourse helps to speak indirectly. "language has been completely taken over. These “different strata” of language and the ideological systems they represent are used to refract the author’s intentions. He recognizes the author's direct narrative.Hashem. these two voices are dialogically interrelated. p 6 socio-belief systems." (Bakhtin.

be it of a profession. 295 . a specific spot or a period of time.' Opinion and information are transmitted by way of reference to an indefinite." (Robinson. sang songs in another. It is also at the site of speech-genres that language becomes meaningful and useful for particular subjects. in his view.. New relations produce new forms of speech. Thus.. since everything is linked together through a chain of connotations. social position. Nothing can be regarded as quite dead. when he began to dictate petitions to the local authorities through a scribe. a genre. Bakhtin identifies talking or writing as a "verbal performance" performed according to a certain point of view or perspective which is displayed through different languages used in different situations. Bakhtin sees language as an endless chain of developments generated from each new link in the chain. "Thus an illiterate peasant … lived in several language systems: he prayed to God in one language (Church Slavonic). Languages and societies are "unfinalized". often to a general 'everyone says' or 'I heard that. general source. or give new meanings to old forms. Bakhtin also explores the interconnectedness of discourse. alluding to the statements and viewpoints of others. 1) . generation. "Even a simple dialogue.96) used as required by the different situations they are employed in without encroaching on or being assessed by each other. Lots of discourse is intertextual. is full of quotations and references. 294). and make it one's own" (Bakhtin. Indeed the most unremarkable "utterance" displays an ideological point of view. 1) This interaction "constantly produces new speech-genres.Hashem. humans selectively assimilate the discourse of others and make it their own. spoke to his family in a third and. politics. By way of these references." (Johnson. p 7 intentions: it is from there that one must take the word. he tried speaking yet a fourth language … All these are different languages" (Bakhtin. age group.

The scientific language conflict with the theological language is displayed through her third-person narration as a poet. the brain. "Dickinson’s employment of the new catchword of postbellum mental science. 290) Language. "languages of various epochs and periods of socio-ideological life cohabit with one another. She expresses different ideological points of view. has been scientifically challenged in mid-nineteenth century." (Bakhtin. is used to express multiple view points and perspectives of the world.23) The spiritual nature of the mind and soul which theological ideology considers the result of their connection to God. p 8 Bakhtin shifts focus from "linguistic dialectological" abstract unity towards "social stratification" of language: "In any given historical moment of verbal-ideological life. theological conception that aligned the mind with the imperishable.Hashem. soul. in everyday life.iv). moreover." (Goldman. corporeal conception of the human mind in “cerebral” poems that link the intangible." (Bakhtin. 22 . Scientific discoveries have shown that the mind is actually a function of the brain. This is what Dickinson does in her "cerebral poems". as opposed to the earthy material nature of the body. a materialistic part of the body: "In Philosophy in the Flesh (1999). traditionally religious entities of the mind. as well as between different ideological points of view. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson describe three ideas with roots in the nineteenth century that transformed understanding of the . each age group [at each social level] has its own language. She "utilizes a new. Simply put. past and present. immaterial soul. Moreover. iii . this means that the coexistence of different languages with one another express the conflict between past and present. each generation at each social level has its own language." (Goldman. 291). evokes a corporeal conception of the mind that subverts the antebellum. and God to the brain to liberate a transcendent space for her poetry.

Both poems give voice to the scientific ideology that considers the mind a function off the material brain. 24 . the spiritual nature of the mind and soul is connected to eternal existence after the physical death of the body. that heaven is no further than the mind. Heaven is so far of the Mind That were the Mind dissolved -The Site -. and you beside. she considers the possibility that the spirit [and] mind are materialized in the brain and explores the unorthodox … implications of that possibility.Hashem. The one the other will include With ease. p 9 human mind: … [among them is] the notion that reason is not disembodied but “arises from the nature of our brains” …. no one will be able to tell where one begins and one ends. In particular." (Goldman. put them side by side.of it -. so in the first the "Mind" can be "dissolved" and in the second the sky can .25) According to theological ideology. in poem #370. For. In poem # 632. they are so close that if the mind dissolves. THE BRAIN is wider than the sky. but can also include it with ease. Dickinson declares. however. Dickinson explores the implications of a new conception of human thought … describe[d] as the “embodied” mind. a conception that arose in the wake of advances in study of the human brain in the second half of the nineteenth century. the brain is not only wider than the sky.by Architect Could not again be proved – In fact. Scientific discovery of the material nature of mind allows Dickinson to create a new poetic ideology that states that the written word is the eternal spiritual existence of the poet & intellect.

a Loaded Gun –". mind. become the stage of a heteroglot dialogue between three conflicting languages in the nineteenth century. scientific and poetical ideologies expressing fundamentally different ways of seeing the world and creating a cultural dialogue between the three “different strata” of language. Yet. By doing that. Yet. where languages can be the point of view of the narrator and the different dialogue of the characters. Bakhtin expressed this beautifully when he said: “Authorial . Dickinson opposes the theological belief that the immaterial soul is the site of spirituality and considers along with advanced scientific theories that the material brain is the site of spirituality. or God. Dickinson is raising the question of what will give immortality to humanity. her description of the brain as wider than the sky is physically impossible. 26) Dickinson's cerebral poems. p 10 be included in the "BRAIN" "With ease"." (Goldman. like the brain. "A Word made Flesh". both description and placement become possible only if the brain is a spiritual entity. Dickinson thus frees the site of spirituality for the poet's words which do not have “the power to die” as she declares in poem # 754 "My Life had stood -. She also places the mind so near heaven that none can be separated from the other. by opposing the two voices. Dickinson gives voice to theological. However. another physical impossibility. This is exactly what heteroglossia is: the use of different languages. and her poetry becomes "a mode of transcendence that. However. she is rejecting them both. embodies thought. she frees the site of immortality for the voice or words of the intellectual poet. transcends the author’s mortality. Thus. thus. She reiterates the same poetic point of view again in poem # 1651. but that also. where she states that "A Word that breathes distinctly/ Has not the power to die" In her poems. which gives voice to theological ideology. like the traditional soul. the writer allows this text to be read by many people and not just one particular group. she also resists the scientific materiality of the brain by giving it spirituality. By creating a heteroglot literary text.Hashem.

. These distinctive links and interrelationships between utterances and languages. inserted genres. the speech of characters are merely those fundamental compositional unities with whose help Heteroglossia … can enter the novel. each of them permits a multiplicity of social voices and a wide variety of their links and interrelationships (always more or less dialogized). However. as shown through Dickinson's cerebral poems. this movement of the theme through different languages and speech types. its dialogization-this is the basic distinguishing feature of the stylistics of the novel" (Bahtin. p 11 speech.Hashem. the speeches of narrators. its dispersion into the rivulets and droplets of social heteroglossia. 263). heteroglossia can also be incorporated in the stylistics of poetry to allow a "multiplicity of voices" to be heard.

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