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Daytona Beach

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Undergraduate Student Works

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Dr. Ashely Lear


Viktor Shklovsky defined and characterized a specific tool in his work “Art as Technique” (1917) that he called “defamiliarization,” the act of making the familiar, unfamiliar, for the purpose of bringing the subject into a new light. The concept of defamiliarization described by Shklovsky was later adopted by the philosophical perspective of absurdism in the 1940’s, a philosophy that believes humanity exists without purpose or reason. Absurdism represents the ideas of Sartre, described best in Being and Nothingness, while also being reminiscent of Shklovsky’s description of defamiliarization by seeking to reshape our perception of the world such that we “make a unique semantic modification” to our understanding (Shklovsky 21). This article examines the ways in which Russian formalism, exemplified by the work of Shklovsky, may be understood to be a precursor to absurdism by examining the ways in which the concept of defamiliarization was foundational to the philosophies of both movements.

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