The Oxford Biblical Studies Online and Oxford Islamic Studies Online have retired. Content you previously purchased on Oxford Biblical Studies Online or Oxford Islamic Studies Online has now moved to Oxford Reference, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, or What Everyone Needs to Know®. For information on how to continue to view articles visit the subscriber services page.

Related Content

Related Overviews

Russian Formalism

Bertolt Brecht (1898—1956) German dramatist, producer, and poet

Fredric Jameson (b. 1934)


More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Literature


Show Summary Details


cognitive estrangement

Quick Reference

A concept derived by Darko Suvin from Russian Formalism's notion of ostranenie and Bertolt Brecht's closely related (but Marx inflected) notion of the estrangement-effect in his Metamorphoses of Science Fiction (1979), a structuralist attempt to distinguish the genre of science fiction writing from other forms of fiction. As Fredric Jameson points out in Archaeologies of the Future (2005), this is a rather exclusive definition, which emphasizes the rational scientific dimension of science fiction and rigorously excludes the kinds of flights of fancy associated with fantasy fiction. For Suvin, the key to cognitive estrangement is the presence in a story or novel of what he calls a ‘novum’, that is a device or machine that is absolutely new and whose presence compels us to imagine a different way of conceiving our world.

Subjects: Literature

Reference entries