Although influence remains a pervasive term in literary criticism, little has changed in its theoretical framework since the work of Harold Bloom in the early 1970s. This essay argues that adaptations of findings in cognitive and social science open up more finely nuanced means of analyzing literary influence. The Picture of Dorian Gray is the test case for such adaptations. I examine two forms of influence: local allusion and global revision of thematic and narrative structures. The psychology of memory for language provides tools for distinguishing among allusions by stressing the differences between the processes of encoding and retrieval and the consequences of these differences for literary works. To analyze global influence, I return influence to its ordinary meaning of persuasion. The social psychology of persuasion provides an alternative to Bloomian psychoanalysis as a means of describing the factors involved in persuasion and their interactions.
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Andrew Elfenbein; On the Discrimination of Influences. Modern Language Quarterly 1 December 2008; 69 (4): 481–507. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-2008-013
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