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Poetics is the theory of literary forms and literary discourse. It may refer specifically to the theory of poetry, although some speakers use the term so broadly as to denote the concept of "theory" itself.
The term "poetics" comes from the Greekpoietikos "pertaining to poetry," literally "creative, productive," from ? poietos "made," verbal adjective of poiein "to make."
Scholar T. V. F. Brogan identifies three major movements in Western poetics over the past 3,000 years, beginning with the formalist, objectivistAristotelian tradition (see Poetics). During the romantic era, poetics tended toward expressionism and emphasized the perceiving subject. The 20th century witnessed a return to the Aristotelian paradigm, followed by trends toward metacriticality, or the establishment of a theory of poetics.
Eastern poetics developed primarily with reference to the lyric, as opposed to the mimetic.
In literary criticism
Poetics is distinguished from hermeneutics by its focus not on the meaning of a text, but rather its understanding of how a text's different elements come together and produce certain effects on the reader. Most literary criticism combines poetics and hermeneutics in a single analysis; however, one or the other may predominate given the text and the aims of the one doing the reading.