Home » Exploring explication » Explication is different from explication de texte

Explication is different from explication de texte


This page deals briefly with the difference between Explication de texte  and explication.

About explication de texte

Explication de texte is a methodology for literary analysis where close reading of the text aims to reveal meaning to enhance our reading of texts.

Among the many sites and web pages which deal with explication de texte, perhaps the best online description of explication de texte is found here:

“Explication de texte is an organized analytical description of a literary work as a text, that is a fixed document. It is generally composed of a series of related observations. These may concern the descriptive, narrational, episodic, contextual, prosodic, historical, lexical, semantic, phonetic, structural, stylistic, tonal, rhythmical, or other aspects of the text. They may focus on literary genre, kind of literary or rhetorical image, frequency of structure or word, the delineation between form and content, the identification of narrators, anticipated or embedded readers, what is implicit in an utterance.” (Click here to reach the whole site which opens in a new window)

It’s also helpful to note that various aspects of explication de texte are consistent with the idea and practice of deconstruction, which is associated with postmodernism.

There’s also an interesting web page here (retrieved 06 May 2013): http://www.engl.unt.edu/~anne/explication/explication.html (opens in a new window)

About explication

While explication de texte is a methodology for literary analysis, explication is regarded as an appropriate methodology for formal philosophy.

By argument and deduction, therefore, a subtle difference between the two can be described as this::

  • explication de texte is normally concerned with the study of somebody else’s writing. Here the study of someone else’s writing has a different emotional consequence, and any claim to new knowledge that emerges is more about what the author was striving to mean rather than the impacts of the new meaning for the person who explicated the text;


  • explication is concerned with making the implicit explicit.  As an experiential process*, explication involves people studying their own past: re-reading past documents; remembering memories triggered by the sound or sight or touch of one’s artefacts; browsing old photographs and videos; searching (and finding) past materials squirreled away in a forgotten corner.  Then armed with these materials and memories, divining insights about one’s experiences so as surface knowledge, skills and competences one hadn’t explicitly recognised before.

Summing up

Williamson (2011) sums up the difference between explication and explication de texte in this way

Explication offers an interesting departure from other methods of philosophical analysis in that an explicating concept need not be true to all the uses of the explicated concept. Note that explication should not be confused with explanation. Explication transforms concepts, making them more precise, while explanation chiefly seeks to answer “why?” questions.”

Note: * Readers might also like to consider the nature and implications of explication among scientists and philosophers.  See  “Explication is an appropriate methodology for philosophy“.


Williamson, J. (2011). “Ideas of the century: Explication 49/50”, The Philosophers Magazine, Issue 50.

Page last edited and published: 14  May 2013