Viktor Shklovsky’s concept of ostranenie (usually translated as defamiliarization, estrangement, or enstrangement) is currently the object of a new surge of interest, perhaps in light of the term’s approaching centenary. Most work on the topic, however, is restricted to the essay in which the term was coined: “Art, as Device” (1917). This Common Knowledge guest column attempts to remedy the situation by introducing anglophone readers to some lesser-known, somewhat later writings of Shklovsky in which he returns to the concept of ostranenie and its cognitive and social functions. While “Art, as Device” is in itself ambiguous, a look at Shklovsky’s reconsiderations renders matters still more complex, though arguably also more productive.

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