"What is a Prologue?": An Introduction to the Oregon State Guide to English Literary Terms

View the full series: The Oregon State Guide to English Literary Terms

What is a Prologue? Transcript (English and Spanish Subtitles Available in Video, Click HERE for Spanish Transcript)

By Raymond Malewitz, Oregon State University Professor of American Literatures

18 October 2019

The word “prologue” brings together the ancient Greek prefix “pro,” which means “forward,” or “before” and “logos,” which means “word” or “plan.” As this origin suggests, a prologue comes at the start of a literary work such as a play or a novel (or, if we stretch the term a bit, a YouTube playlist), and often serves to introduce the key characters, setting, and other background features of the story to come.

Hey there, everybody!  My name is Ray Malewitz and it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the Oregon State Guide to English Literary Terms!

In the videos that follow, faculty members from Oregon State’s School of Writing, Literature, and Film will briefly explain literary concepts ranging from metaphor and metonymy to satire and the sonnet.  They will then show you how their term can be used to help close read a well-known poem or story.  By the end of each video, you should have a good sense of how to apply the literary term to other poems and stories that you may encounter in your reading adventures.

We hope to roll out new videos as quickly as we can for the foreseeable future, so please subscribe to our YouTube channel and like and comment on our videos to keep the conversation going.  If you have any suggestions for terms that you’d like to see us cover, please recommend them in the comments section of a video.

As a land-grant institution, Oregon State is committed to public outreach and engagement, and this series is one of many efforts within OSU’s School of Writing, Literature, and Film to share our love of literature with people within and beyond our Oregon community. If you’d like to check out more of our initiatives, please visit our main page.  Thanks so much for stopping by, and enjoy the videos!

Want to cite this?

MLA Citation: Malewitz, Raymond. "What is a Prologue?" Oregon State Guide to English Literary Terms, 19 Oct. 2019, Oregon State University, https://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/wlf/what-prologue. Accessed [insert date].

Further Resources for Teachers and Students

In an effort to aid teachers and students, we've added reading suggestions and discussion questions to the end of many our video transcripts that might pair nicely with the videos in online lessons. We hope that these suggestions will prove useful to you in your classes.  Happy reading, everybody!

Interested in more video lessons? View the full series:

The Oregon State Guide to English Literary Terms