Tag Archives: term of art


synesthesia: A medical (or psychological) term describing the occurrence when stimulating one sense organ causes another to respond. It is as though in eating one were to receive strong visual sensations of color rather than, or along with, sensations of taste. As a literary device, synesthesia has been used in certain types of poetry of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially that of the Symbolists. Rimbaud’s “Sonnet des voyelles,” expressing the sounds of the common vowels in terms of colors, is an excellent use of this device.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Term of Art: Youth Culture

Youth Culture: Strictly speaking a subculture, the subject of an influential debate between (mainly) functionalist writers and their critics. Youth cultures are explained either by factors in the experience of adolescence, or by the manipulation of young people’s spending and leisure, through advertising and other mass media. The functional separation of home, school, and work supposedly makes teenagers increasingly distinct from adults, more self-aware, and subject to peer group rather than parental and other adult influences. But the relative affluence of teenagers in the decades after the Second World War, especially if they were in work, also encouraged the growth of a large and profitable market for goods and services specifically directed at young consumers. This has promoted the growth of a distinctive youth fashions and styles in clothes, music, and leisure, many of the originating in the United States.

For some writers, the cultural clash across generations has displaced social class as the primary form of conflict in modern industrialism. Yet class itself figures importantly in shaping the content of different youth cultures. Research in the United States distinguished the so-called college cultures of (mainly) middle-class youth from the rough or corner cultures of their working-class counterparts. The former were thought to manage the gap between conformist attitudes to achievement and otherness of adolescent school life—of which the school itself is the center. Corner cultures, in contrast, were viewed as a response to working-class academic failure; centered around the neighborhood gang rather than the school; and as reflecting the search for alternative, even deviant status, identity, or rewards. In Britain, however, youth culture was almost exclusively identified with male working-class youth and the moral panic about its style and aggressiveness. Neo-Marxist studies saw this as symbolic protest against, for example, the dissolution of the traditional working-class neighborhood community, and mass control over what were once predominantly working-class forms of leisure (such as soccer). Much of this literature is reviewed in Mike Brake, The Sociology of Youth Cultures and Subcultures (1980).

Developments in both sociology and society itself, notably during the 1980s, greatly modified the terms of the debate. Feminist writers pointed to the invisibility of girls in the mainstream literature on youth and have researched gender variations in youth culture. The experiences of youth among ethnic minorities have received more attention. But, above all, the period since the mid-1970s has seen the demise of the notion of the independent teenage consumer and rebel. The focus of research has switched instead to the youth labor-market, and the dependence of young people on the household, as a result of growing unemployment and the vulnerability of youth to flexible employment. See also Coleman, James S. 

Excerpted from: Matthews, Gordon, ed. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Term of Art: Haptic Sense

“haptic sense: A person’s sense of touch. Haptic recognition tests involve blindfolded subjects feeling geometric shapes, then choosing the picture corresponding to the shape from a limited set. Many people with language-based disabilities have a difficult time with these tasks.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Term of Art: Theology

“theology: The systematic study of religious beliefs and systems of thinking about God (or gods), often from within a given tradition, such as Judaism or Catholicism. Theology is not far removed from philosophy and the sociology of religion when considerations of meaning and empirical manifestations of religion are primary.”

Excerpted from: Matthews, Gordon, ed. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Term of Art: Ability Grouping

“ability grouping: The practice of assigning students to classes on the basis of their past achievement or presumed ability to learn. In schools that use ability grouping, low-performing students will be in one class, hig-performing students in another, and average-performing students in yet another. This grouping by ability is called homogenous grouping, whereas the practice of mixing students of different abilities in the same class is called heterogenous grouping. Some schools group students by ability in certain subjects, like mathematics, but not in others, like social studies or English. Researchers disagree about whether ability grouping is beneficial. Advocates say that a certain amount of grouping is not only inevitable but also better for students, Many teachers find it daunting to teach classes with a wide range of ability because they must worry about boring students at the high end or ability while moving too rapidly for students at the other extreme. Critics of ability grouping contend that those placed in lower tracks encounter low expectations and are not sufficiently challenged. They also say that in most subject areas, students with lower or higher skills have much to learn from one another.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Semantic (adj)

If you’re interested in teaching your students terms of art that represent concepts in learning, then this context clues worksheet on the adjective semantic might be useful. You could also use this document as a template for a context clues worksheet on the noun semantics. Either way, these words represent a concept–the use of language to create meaning–that students probably ought to know before they graduate high school.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Term of Art: Affective Fallacy

“affective fallacy: A critical term denoting the confusion between what a literary work is and what it does. That is, a work should be judged solely on its literary components, not by its emotional (or affective) impact on the reader. It was first identified as a critical ‘error’ by Monroe Beardsley and W.K. Wimsatt in The Verbal Icon (1954). It is related to intentional fallacy, in which a work is judged according to what the author presumably intended to say or in relation to the author’s biography.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.