Detextualizing. How to write the history of audiences

Jerome Bourdon, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

My presentation discusses the work of the historians of audiences for all media, from literature to television, from highbrow to lowbrow, focusing on the specific difficulties they have to overcome, both epistemological and methodological. From an epistemological point of view, the object “audiences” is often considered, mainly or solely, as a discursive entity, existing only in text. This textualism is refuted, and also analysed historically as less postmodern than romantic: claiming that the public doesn’t exist is often tantamount to seeing the public as a living, genuine, resisting attempts to control it including through science, especially quantitative knowledge. The main part of the presentation is devoted to methodology. It proposes a typology of the many sources the historians should combine to trace audiences. It classifies sources in four categories: from above (media, political, administrative elites), from the side (references to audiences in other media, including art and literature), from the media themselves (both the physical artefacts and the media messages), and from below (expressions of audience members through letters, memoirs, and oral sources for more recent audiences). It shows the advantages and inconvenient of all sources and methods, not pitching one against the other (e.g. “good” ethnography, against “bad” manipulative statistic) but showing how each one reveals a different facet of the audience. Finally, it warns historians against the “grand narratives” of the audience, based on axiologies of hopes (e.g. for a genuine public sphere, a liberating medium) and fears (e.g. from an enslaved, manipulated audience), suggesting they have little to do with history.


Towards a neurocognitive poetics model of literary reading

Arthur Jacobs, Free University, Berlin, Germany

A recent dual-route model specifies processes involved in literary reading at the experiential, cognitive-affective, and neuronal levels of processing. It hypothesizes a fast, automatic route for processing background“ text elements and a slower route for foregrounded ones. The former is hypothesized to facilitate immersive processes through effortless word recognition, activation of familiar situation-models, and the experiencing of fiction emotions; the slow one to be operational in aesthetic processes supported by explicit schema adaptation, artefact emotions, and the ancient neuronal play and pleasure systems. The model is discussed in the light of neurocognitive studies on fact vs. fiction reading, the aesthetic appreciation of figurative language, and poetry reception.


From Toronto to Torino: 14 years of media psychology

Elly Konijn, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In 2000, the IGEL-conference took place in Toronto. At this memorable event, important pioneers in Media Psychology such as Dolf Zillmann, Keith Oatley, Gerald Cupchik, Art Graesser, among others, presented their work. Apart from the inspiring talks and stimulating discussions at the dinner table, we shared thrilling dancing nights. This all in the vibrant belief that a psychological approach to studying how individuals use media, in its broadest sense, is indispensable in understanding possible media effects. A focus on emotions, emotional responsiveness, identification and empathy prevailed, while new media technology such as video games and virtual reality just emerged, bringing many other approaches to the fore. Today, media is omnipresent and not just a leisure activity anymore; media entertainment is the hottest industry and many feel they live in a mediated society. The then vibrant belief has turned Media Psychology into a field of its own with a wide array of theoretical perspectives. I will sketch how the field has evolved over those 14 years - where Media Psychology stands today and what can be expected in the near future.


Turning the poetics of movere into a tool of empirical research

Winfried Menninghaus, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Ever since Horace, Cicero and Quintilian, rhetoric and poetics stipulate that it is one of the prime goal of the arts to emotionally move (movere) the audience. 17th through 19th century aesthetics has put a strong emphasis on the inherently pleasurable dimensions of feeling oneself emotionally moved even if this involves markedly negative emotions. To date, there is very little psychological research on what it actually means "to be moved".

The lecture presents results of an ongoing project aimed at establishing being moved, being touched and similar terms as genuine emotion concepts that have distinct profiles and a direct bearing on aesthetic appreciation. Specifically, the lecture will present empirical data on how parallelistic features of diction in poems influence aesthetic and emotional response dimensions of being moved by works of art.






A Croatian children's classic in Burgerland Croatian translation

Katarina Aladrović-Slovaček & Smiljana Narančić Kovač, University of Zagreb, Croatia

This paper presents a digital comparative text analysis of linguistic and cultural aspects of the 1960 translation of Čudnovate zgode šegrta Hlapića [The Strange Adventures of Hlapich the Apprentice] from Croatian into Burgerland Croatian. This language of the Croatian minority predominantly positioned in Austria is considered to be a regional variant of Croatian. Despite similarities, it consistently differs from standard Croatian, having developed separately since the 15th century. The children's novel about a little shoemaker by Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (1874–1938), first published in 1913, has a special place in Croatian children’s literature. It has also been internationally acknowledged through translations into many other languages. The results of the digital analysis of the source and target texts will allow for a comparison of their linguistic complexity. They will be further used to establish various aspects of translation equivalence and adopted translation strategies, such as domestication and adaptation.


Counting poetic images

Vadim Andreev, Smolensk State University, Russia

The paper proposes a method of quantitative analysis of poetic images which makes it possible to count poetic images, single out models according to which they are created and thus obtain objective data about the poet’s image system. A poetic image is defined as a fragment of text which by means of some trope or syntactic figure realises a certain model of metaphorical mapping.

The alterations in the system of images over time in verse texts by a famous American romantic poet H. Longfellow are analysed, and significant changes in Longfellow’s style over time are revealed. The combinability of concepts in poetic images gradually reduces over time: the extensive way of creating image models is substituted by the intensive one and the role of separate clusters in the image system increases.


The universe of Renaissance Italian sacred poems (1475-1758)

Erminia Ardissino, University of Turin, Italy

The sacred poem was extensively developed during Italian Renaissance, as a result to the merging of Dante and Virgil’s models with biblical and devotional themes, then to Ariosto’s influence, and lastly to Tasso’s new poetical narration. With the exception of masterworks (such as Sannazaro’s De Partu Virginis, Folengo’s L’umanita del Figliuolo di Dio, Tasso’s Il mondo creato), sacred-themed poems have had little attention from critics, due to the fact that they are largely works with a strongly devotional purpose. However, their flourishing in 16th-17th Century Italy, their variation in themes and forms, and their literary and religious value lend themselves to further examination. Over 200 titles of such poems have been retrieved. My objective in this presentation is to illustrate the various forms that the sacred poem can take in Italy and especially the themes it covers (biblical, agiographical, devotional, theological) to understand the interests of writers and readers. A thourougly study of this literary genre allows also a deeper understanding of Italian literature and culture in the early modern period.


Implicit associations between acoustic characteristics of phonemes and emotions

Jan Auracher, Konan University Kobe, Japan

In his paper on Sound Iconicity, Miall (2001, Poetics, Vol.29, pp. 55-70) suggests that phonemes do not encode innate meaning, but rather, due to articulatory characteristics, connote one pole or the other of semantic differentials such as high-low, long-short, or bright-dark. The aim of this study was to investigate whether such phonosemantic connotations are implicit, that is, pre-conscious. To this end, a research design particularly suited to detect implicit associations across sensory modalities was used to investigate sound-meaning relationships between acoustic features of phonemes and emotions, categorized within a two dimensional space of valence and activity. Results suggest that plosive consonants (/t/ /p/ /k/) and bright vowels (/i/ /e/) are associated with positive-active emotions, whereas sonorant consonants (/n/ /m/ /l/) and dark vowels (/o/ /u/) are associated with negative-inactive feelings. The implications of this result for the analysis of literary texts are discussed.


Phenomenology of the foregrounding experience in film and literature

Katalin Bálint & Frank Hakemulder, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Foregrounding refers to a set of stylistic effects used for the purpose of increasing the “artfulness of an object”. The techniques of foregrounding usually violate an existing stylistic convention, which has a strong potential to affect perceivers. Much of our empirical knowledge on foregrounding comes from quantitative studies, yet, a real insight into the subjective experience of foregrounding is still missing. The presented study was to explore the nature of the subjective experience of foregrounding, namely what it is like to recognize a deviating technique in the narrative and what recurrent processes characterize this experience. In order to generate thick description of foregrounding experiences a qualitative study was conducted. Respondents participated in two in-depth interview sessions. References to perceived deviating techniques were analyzed further in respect to recurring response types. As a result of the analysis profiles of the foregrounding experience were identified.


Interior music: an examination of the sociocognitive abilities of fiction writers

Theanna Bischoff & Joan Peskin, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada

In investigating the relationship between fiction writing and sociocognitive ability, an online survey was used to assess beliefs about the social cognition of fiction writers compared to other professions. Following the survey, fiction writers and a non-writing comparison group were compared across several different measures of social cognition (e.g., social perception, interpreting body language, and making inferences about interpersonal interactions via video and vignettes) and related variables (e.g., self-reported interpersonal/social reactivity and cognitive complexity/differentiation). Writing samples provided by participants were scored for quality by fiction writing judges. Analyses revealed that the general public believes fiction writers demonstrate above-average sociocognitive abilities; however, empirical tests revealed no significant between-group differences on direct measures of sociocognitive ability, nor any relationship between fiction writing quality and social cognition. Ultimately, the results of the study suggest that, contrary to public perceptions and the hypotheses of many theorists, fiction writers do not demonstrate superior sociocognitive abilities.


“Must I needs want solidness because by metaphors I speak?”: a case for the empirical study of emblematics

Daniele Borgogni, University of Turin, Italy

The paper will discuss some features of emblematic compositions that are particularly relevant to the empirical study of literature and the media. Being a hybrid type of textuality, emblematics deserves to be analysed as a mode of knowledge and thought with a great influence on the Early Modern cultural climate, but also as a wide cultural index whose material relevance in self-fashioning has all too often been underestimated, as a type of text stressing the centrality of the reader’s interpretative moment rather than the author’s creative one, and as a paradigmatic case of ideological conditioning in a period rife with political and social tensions, due to its increasing tendency to transform the reader into an althusserian subject.


Reconsidering hypertextuality and online reading practices: a transmedial comparison between travel books and travel blogs

Stefano Calzati, University of Leeds, United Kingdom

By comparing three contemporary travel books and three travel blogs, the aim of this paper is look at travel writing from a transmedial perspective, in order to discuss the genre in relation to the medium. In this respect, the analysis is two-folded and calls upon two much-debated concepts: ‘hypertextuality’ and ‘paratext’. On the one hand, the analysis questions the digitally-oriented notion of ‘hypertextuality’ and it contends that travel books can be considered (even more than blogs) as hypertextual texts. On the other hand, the concept of ‘paratext’ is applied to travel blogs and it is shown that, while publishers’ intervention in books is rather limited, in blogs the medial apparatus invades the space of the text and challenges its recognisability. So, 1) online authors are less free than commonly supposed; 2) online readers are required to perform a ‘hyperactive reading’ continuously passing from the text per se to the paratextual elements that occupy the page.


Reading lines, reading times: a psycholinguistic approach to ‘difficult’ poetry processing

Davide Castiglione, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

Adopting a comparative perspective based on psycholinguistic evidence, this paper explores two facets of ‘difficulty’ in poems: difficulty as (1) an online processing effort, and as (2) a matter of low post-reading comprehension. It also attempts to assess which relation obtains between these two facets.

To explore issue (1) a self-paced reading task was designed in which six poems were cumulatively displayed. Mean reading speeds per line were calculated. The results suggest a cline of increasing processing effort from traditional to modernist up to avant-garde poems, beyond showing how linguistic deviances thwart processing.

A comprehension task on the same poems allowed addressing issue (2): a difficulty ranking was derived based on a content analysis of the responses. Comparing the two rankings it turns out that high processing effort and post-reading comprehension are loosely correlated, with some interesting exceptions calling for theoretical refinements in stylistics and text processing studies.


The agency of poetry in the empowerment of the poetry reader

Daniela Cavalli, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

This in-progress case study focuses on the responses to poetry of a female high school student. Its aim is to understand her meaning making processes, including her aesthetic experience, and the individual and sociocultural aspects that make them possible, as well as possible differences in her responses to written and visual poems. The study draws mainly from reader-response theory and sociocultural theory of learning.

Preliminary results have been established through qualitative analysis of data. Some tensions identified in her discourse - agency vs. determinism; adolescence and rupture vs. tradition and belonging; and self-imposition vs. societal-imposition- suggest that the reading and writing of poetry gave her opportunities not only to construct personal and social meaning, but also to take a critical stance. Also, the coexistence of two roles of the reader -passive and active- came into view. In both cases,the empowerment of the literary reader was seen as possible.


The REDES project: a follow-up after 10 years

Anna Chesnokova, Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University, Ukraine

Sonia Zyngier, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Willie van Peer, University of Munich, Germany

The presentation assesses the final outcome of the international REDES (Research and Development in Empirical Studies) project. Founded in 2002, for about a decade it functioned to promote the investigation of culture, literature, language and media from a multicultural perspective. More than stimulating research by (especially) beginning students, it aimed at helping them become autonomous researchers by way of using empirical methods.

Our aim is to see how participants benefited from this experience after over a decade. To this end, 53 REDES participants from three regional groups (Brazil, Germany and Ukraine) answered a questionnaire about how they saw the project in terms of its effect over their lives and careers.

The results from the data analysis indicate that not only many participants felt motivated to pursue further degrees and develop other research projects, but they acquired many skills which have been considerably influencing their careers in different fields of action.


Constructing the holocaust narrative: on site, in literature and in film

Sonja Christoph, University of Munich, Germany

This paper reports on an empirical study comprising a sample of 200 tourists visiting the Dachau Memorial Site near Munich, Germany in 2011. The purpose was to better understand how the story of the Holocaust has not only shaped the individual’s perception of this event, but in turn affected how that individual would perceive a memorial site. Visitors were questioned especially about their emotional responses to representations of the Holocaust they had been exposed to in the past, while focus was directed to observing their emotional responses to the memorial site on the day of their visit. In this research, I will discuss the results of this riveting study, and concentrate on how the narrative of the Holocaust has been formed on site, in literature and in film.


The social apocalypse: on post-apocalyptic fiction in a biocultural perspective

Mathias Clasen, University of Aarhus, Denmark

What is the strange attraction of imagining the end of the world? I analyze the allure and the functions of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic science fiction, exemplified by English-language genre novels (c. 1949-1985). I draw on anthropological, biological and psychological findings to explain why such stories overwhelmingly represent the social apocalypse, and why ambivalence saturates such imaginative scenarios: they centrally dramatize the challenges and the values of sociality. Moreover, I argue that uniquely developed human adaptive capacities for imagination, decoupled cognition and mental time-travel account for the existence and psychological functions of the genre, but that a cultural perspective is indispensable to explaining the modern popularity of such stories, from stories of Cold War nuclear apocalypse to the currently popular zombie-mediated end of the world. Biologically constrained cognitive architecture gives rise to post-apocalyptic science fiction, and cultural contingency modulates it. Hence the need for a biocultural analytical framework.


A secondary analysis of transportation and identification: Looking for similarities and differences in processes of narrative processing.

Jonathan Cohen & Nurit Tal-Or, University of Haifa, Israel

This paper presents a secondary analysis of several studies that include measures of both identification and transportation and their relationships with other variables. Findings are collected from more than a dozen studies and organized so that a comparison can be conducted between the predictors of identification and transportation. A similar comparison is conducted between the consequences of both variables. In examining predictors of identification and transportation, we found differences relating to textual factors, environmental factors, character factors and audience factors. In examining outcomes, we point to certain conditions under which identification and transportation produce different results In terms of interpretations, self-perceptions and attitudes. These findings are then discussed in light of the theoretical differences between the concepts and with an eye towards developing a more exact understanding of these two distinct psychological processes that underlie the narrative experience.


Resistance or hegemony: hemispheric (dis)encounters in Oliver Stone´s South of the Border

Anelise R. Corseuil, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil

Symposium: poetics of resistance in the Americas

Oliver Stone´s documentary “South of the Border”, produced in 2009, presents various interviews by former Latin American presidents. The film focuses on political differences between Latin America national politics and US foreign policies, as well as US major TV Channels and its manipulation of the media, regarding Latin American political arena. Within this context, this paper analyzes the conflicting discourses imbued in the film: its denouncing tone of neoliberalism and the erasure of Latin American national differences in the aesthetics choices and narrative techniques of the film.


Literature and life in Gramsci’s Letters from Prison

Moira De Iaco, University of Salento, Italy

We analyse the role of literature through Gramsci’s Letters from Prison. They are a strong example of the relationship that literature can establish with life. They could be seen as an indirect autobiography. Gramsci’s emotions, feelings, memories, culture survive thanks to the letters which are an account of himself to the others. They are a fundamental dialogue instrument for an intellectual that used to take dialectical points of view. Letters from Prison are also an occasion to reflect on educational aspects of the literature: Gramsci used them to communicate with his children, often through anecdotes and stories.

Make the experience of reading these letters it means committing yourself in a process of interpretation that must take into account the contingencies in which they were written. The chosen language is often metaphorical, indirect, parabolic to escape censorship.


An empirical approach to studying young readers of utopian literature

Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak, Wroclaw University, Poland

The putative ideal readers of utopian literature see utopian literature—understood herein to include numerous sub-genres manifesting utopian thought—as opportunities to develop critical attitudes to reality and to ponder their own models of utopia. For young readers, utopian texts are to sharpen their sociopolitical awareness and show them that a given social order is not an inflexible category. In this paper I present the findings of my study of young readers’(12-15 years old) responses to radical fantasy fiction, a recent development in children’s and young adult utopian literature. Relying on Kenneth Roemer’s reader response research into utopian literature (2003) and Peter Stockwell’s cognitive poetic approach to utopian fiction (2000), I focus in particular on how the young audiences’ experience of reading may have helped them identify their values and assumptions about society and citizenship in the context of their awareness of power relations and sociopolitical problems in their everyday lives.


Emotion and memory in the appreciation of literary text

Peter Dixon & Marisa Bortolussi, University of Alberta, Canada

We argue that emotions evoked by literary texts are generally remembered emotions. This contrasts with the idea that readers experience the emotions of the characters. As a consequence, the emotions evoked by a text are determined by the memory retrieval cues in the text, how they are used by the reader, and the reader’s emotional memories that these cues evoke. This analysis predicts that what is experienced depends on what is remembered, not, as commonly supposed, on the emotions described in the text. As evidence for the importance of memory in evoked emotions, we describe survey data in which respondents described their reactions to their most recently read novel. The results indicate that novels that evoke personal memories also tend to be those that evoke emotion.


Filming Minimalism: a contradiction in terms?

John Douthwaite, University of Genoa, Italy

The paper will compare a short extract from a Hemingway short story to its filmic remake. Many literary critics take Hemingway to be a minimalist and we are not here to a debate on the nature of minimalism and of the relationship of Hemingway’s writing to this literary “genre”. If one of the main features, if not THE main feature, of Minimalism, is saying “less”, or “saying “less” and meaning “more”, then we immediately run into several terminological and definitional difficulties which would, I fear, be extremely difficult to unravel. Instead, I wish to show that the very nature of minimalism is difficult to capture on film precisely because of its hypothesized features, the main being saying “less”. The main analytical tools I will employ are those of narratology – basically story time and text time, and, principally Grice’s Cooperative Principle.


Introspection – a challenge for empirical studies of literature?

Thomas Eder, University of Vienna, Austria

Empirical methods in literary studies necessarily rely on introspective reports which have been considered problematic with regard to their objective reliability.

Subjects being tested are frequently exposed to questions which require introspection and introspective reports in order to be answered. E.g. they complete “likert scale questionnaires”, that is, they mark passages in texts which struck them or they rate the suspension elicited by a text (which are afterwards investigated by the means of empirical methods; e.g. fMRI, PET, EEG, skin resistance measurement etc.)

My talk will outline several recent introspective methods ("Think aloud protocols", "Descriptive experience sampling", "Eliciting Interview technique") and critically question their reliability and presuppositions.

Moreover, I will sketch a carefully adopted version of introspection during reading (online processes) and during attempts to understand poems having read (offline processes).


How to (or not to) research reception of fiction in public spaces: methodological reflections

Katarina Eriksson Barajas, Linköping University, Sweden

The paper is based on an interdisciplinary empirical research project on the use of fiction. Reader response/reception theories and discursive psychology (Edwards & Potter, 1992) are combined in the project. The approach, called discursive reception studies (Eriksson Barajas & Aronsson, 2009), provides possibilities to analyse the role of social interaction in the co-construction of the experience of, in this case, a film or a play. The paper deals with methodological issues: i) how to get access to ‘naturally’ occurring practices around fiction – when people went to cafés after seeing a film together and in the pause at the theatre; ii) how to record data in such practices; iii) how to use data collection methods and analysis methods adapted to the type of data collected. One advantage with the used method for data collection is that I have come across “dream participants” – that is correct match between participants and film content.


What does “empirical” mean for semiotics?

Guido Ferraro, University of Turin, Italy

I shall try to take stock of the attitudes of today Saussurean semiotics about empirical research methodologies and the corresponding epistemological foundations. I don’t think it’s a matter of “the” winning, resolutive methodology, but that it’s better to reason about the different kinds of outcomes which we can achieve with every available methodology.

On the basis of some field experiences, we can compare the outcomes of textual analysis and those we can reach with methods that investigate the reading processes in a sample group. The key concept is the one of “complexity”: the real phenomena show a degree of variances that a theoretical systematization seems on the contrary required to suppress. On the other hand, we need theoretical systematizations to make sense of those empirically observed processes. To understand the “real things” researchers had to combine the strength of different analytical tools. Key concept: “synergy”.


Frankenstein is alive and kicking: A multidimensional model of the literary work in culture

David Fishelov, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

To better understand the process of distribution, dissemination and reception of literary works we need a multi-dimensional model that takes into account the echoes and dialogues that certain works generate in the form of sequels, imitations, translations, re-writings, artistic re-creations and film adaptations. These dialogues have an impact on the initiating work’s visibility as well as on its reception. I will illustrate the multi-dimensional model with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. When the novel was first published it was tagged as a minor ghost story and received mixed reviews. To explain the novel’s ‘renaissance’ during the past few decades we need to address not only its intrinsic qualities (a compelling story with troubling philosophical questions) but also the heterogeneous body of dialogues that it has generated. I will discuss a few notable film adaptations and their correlation with the growing scholarly interest in the book, as evidenced in several databases.


Descriptions and perspective

Monika Fludernik, University of Freiburg, Germany

This paper will analyse the handling of perspective in descriptions both in fictional and in factual texts. It relies on empirical analyses conducted in the course of a seminar on description and will discuss different types of ordering the sensual data in novelistic descriptions on the one hand and data in flat descriptions by informants on the other. Both types of texts will be analysed using theories of perspectivization from narratology and models of perspective presentation from linguistics. It will be argued that neither the narratological nor the linguistic models really fit the facts and that the handling of perspective in descriptions requires a new theory that takes account of differences between literary and non-literary instances of description.


Challenge and threat: the mediating role of arousal on videogame engagement

Katrina Fong & Raymond A. Mar, York University, Canada

The uncertainty of outcomes in videogames has been associated with feelings of enjoyable suspense. However, whether suspenseful scenarios in videogames are enjoyable may depend on how they are construed. This study addressed how construals of challenge and threat are associated with outcomes such as game enjoyment and character identification, as well as how arousal responses (e.g., engagement and stress) might mediate this relationship. Perceiving the game as challenging was related to increased enjoyment, and this relationship could be partially explained by increased engagement and decreased stress. Conversely, perceiving the game as threatening was related to less enjoyment and this could be partially explained by feelings of stress. Similar results were found for character identification. These results suggest that reactions to videogame play are influenced by players’ construals of stressors in the game, and these relationships can be partially explained by differential activation of different types of arousal responses.


Igloolik Isuma’s The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2007) and the poetics of resistance

Neide Garcia Pinheiro, Universidade Estadual do Centro Oeste, Brazil

Symposium: poetics of resistance in the Americas

This presentation focuses on The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2007), a production by Igloolik Isuma, a film collective located in the Canadian Arctic Region.  Core to Isuma’s film is the intersection of different types of narratives, namely the ‘official’ historical accounts by explorers of the Arctic, photography and Native storytelling.  As a result, the filmic narrative is hybrid and allows for discussing it in terms of the “poetics of resistance”.  This concept is proposed by poet and literary critic Fred Wah and extended to film studies by Brazilian scholar Maria Lucia Milleo Martins.  According to her poetics of resistance may be defined as “artistic and political devices used to articulate difference and resistance” to hegemonic discourses and nationalist aesthetic that “either ignores or appropriates difference” (“Dionne Brand and Alanis Obomsawin: Polyphony in the Poetics of Resistance” 151).


Giovanni Verga’s Mastro-don Gesualdo: a cinematic novel?

Paolo Giovannetti, Iulm University - Milan, Italy

Giovanni Verga’s Mastro-don Gesualdo (1889) is an interesting example of a novel structured in reflector-mode which needs, to be adequately interpreted, a perceptive interplay with its prototypical readers. This statement is plausible insofar as this figuralized novel suggests a perspectivization of reality which is very similar to what cinema will create six years after. “Cinema” in Mastro-don Gesualdo is the consequence of the action (i.e. perceptive action) of an empty deictic center on the entire surface of the text. This sort of “cinematic” frame avant la lettre is the main object of my paper.


Engaging adolescents in interpretive discussions of literary texts

Susan R. Goldman & Teresa Sosa, University of Illinois at Chicago,U.S.A.

Sarah Levine, Northwestern University, U.S.A.

Symposium: the multidimensional nature of literary interpretation for novice adolescent readers and the demands of scaffolding their learning in school environments

This paper describes two teaching strategies designed to support an inquiry-approach to literary sense-making. The first involves heuristics that support students in attending to patterns of language and literary devices (see Rabinowitz, 1987). These heuristics were designed to help students acculturate themselves to literary norms and “red flags” for interpretive salience. The second strategy involves the structuring of questions and dialogic discussions that help students connect their identification of literary language to their interpretations of literary effects (e.g., Gutierrez and Baquedano-Lopez, 1999; Wells, 2007). In these dialogic sense-making discussions, the practices, and experiences of both teacher and students are equally valued as interpretive resources.

We will present excerpts from discussions of literary works that occurred in a nine- week instructional intervention. The excerpted discussions illustrate growth in student attention to and interpretation of authorial choices in these literary texts, as well as growth in student participation.


Bi-directionality in metaphor and the grotesque

Chanita Goodblatt, Ben-Gurion University, Israel

Joseph Glicksohn, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

In developing his Interaction Theory of Metaphor, Max Black uses a metaphor (Man is a Wolf) that is incompatible and even grotesque in its juxtaposition of man and animal. Two points generated by discussions of Black’s theory are relevant to what we term a potential for bi-directionality. First, the tension between the primary and secondary subjects must be upheld; hence there is no blending of the two, but a possibility of each subject alternatively becoming the focus of one’s attention during reading. Secondly, we claim that bi-directionality in a metaphor is sustained in two primary ways: a clash of sharp visual images; and a use of the grotesque. We investigate this bi-directionality in an empirical study that utilizes a microgenetic procedure, coupled with the collection of an online verbal report about the process of metaphor comprehension.


In media stat virtus: David Foster Wallace, Victor Pelevin and the effects of media on the postmodern novel(ist)

Maddalena Grattarola, University College London, United Kingdom

This paper analyses the effects of media on the postmodern novel by comparing selected works of David Foster Wallace and Victor Pelevin in a transcultural context, in order to demonstrate how television and advertising have deeply affected and re-shaped both American and Russian postmodern writing. By applying Popper's theory of ‘Three Worlds’ (1978), it aims to empirically analyse the novelists' response to intensive media exposure and to highlight the social role that, according to Meyrowitz (No Sense of Place, 1985), media play in the societies they depict.


Non-invasive brain stimulation in ‘neuro narratology’. Advantages, disadvantages, and applicability of tDCS and TMS.

Annika Hamachers, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany

This paper responds to the call for the incorporation of neurological methods into the empirical study of literature – more specifically, into empirical narratology. Two non-invasive brain stimulating techniques (TMS and tDCS) are discussed as potentially fruitful tools to explore narrative reception. Very briefly, the technical fundamentals are sketched out. Advantages and limitations are taken into consideration before deriving potential fields of application.


The operationalizability of narration. An attempt to empirically validate textual narrative features.

Annika Hamachers, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany

Though the notion ‘narration’ is frequently encountered in studies on media effects, hardly any research questions the concept itself. This paper seeks to put definitions of narration to an empirical test. 17 proposals for defining features of narratives were extracted from literature from various disciplines. Three promising candidates are discussed in terms of their operationalizability and examined in a quasi-experimental design (N = 146) – eliminating them from texts and comparing readers’ responses. Results are disillusioning: Only one hypothesized narrative feature can be confirmed as such (making a text feel significantly more ‘story-like’). Limitations of the study that can be attributed to the problems of the textual operationalization of narration are discussed as well as implications for future research.


Attention and depth of processing during the reading of literary texts

Amir Harash, Yeshayahu Shen, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Reading literature is an action that occurs within a loaded setting from a cognitive perspective. Each reader navigates within an abundance of details and words, selecting and allocating a varying extent of attention to each segment of the text. This allocation of attention determines the depth of the reading and processing of each segment and thereby critically affects the way the reader reads. I argue that a deeper reading will involve more "bottom-up" cognitive processes attentive to the text and the changes with it. On the other hand, a shallower reading will involve "top-down" processes higher processes related to generalization and schematization. In particular, I will claim that when reading a segment that contains indefiniteness a shallow reading will allow the use of "anti-interpretive" processes, which ignore the text and move away from the strategy of the "ideal interpreter" striving to reach the most complete understanding. I will present initial empirical results on the topic.


Replotting the narrative self: an empirically grounded psychological interpretation of “Young Goodman Brown”

Scott Harshbarger, Hofstra University, U.S.A.

This paper draws on empirically grounded theories of the “narrative self” as well as “narrative transport” in order to shed light on psychological aspects of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” Dan McAdams and others have used Erik Erikson’s concept of “generativity” -- “an adult’s concern for and commitment to promoting the well-being of future generations” (McAdams 2006) -- in order to understand how some narrative selves prosper while others stagnate or decline. Drawing on experimental research, McAdams proposes that “highly generative” individuals tend to be guided by life stories characterized by “redemption,” while “low generative” individuals follow a story characterized by “contamination.” Such contrasting narrative selves are prevalent in Hawthorne’s works, but in ways that complicate McAdams’ categories. Whereas many of Hawthorne’s protagonists are enmeshed in tales of contamination, for example, Hawthorne attempts to avoid this fate by projecting the unconscious patterns of low-generative behavior onto his characters, thereby freeing himself enough to follow a relatively redemptive life story.


The embodied reader: the effect of narrative perspective on literature understanding and appreciation

Franziska Hartung, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Michael Burke, University College Roosevelt, Middelburg; Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Peter Hagoort, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Roel Willems, Radboud University Nijmegen; Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

When we read literature, we often become immersed and dive into fictional worlds. The way we perceive those worlds is the result of skillful arrangement of linguistic features by story writers in order to create certain mental representations in the reader. Narrative perspective, or focalization, is one important tool for storywriters to manipulate perception in the reader. Despite the fact that narrative perspective is considered a fundamental element in narrative comprehension, its cognitive basis remains unclear. In a recent study we asked subjects to read short stories in 1st and 3rd person perspective. We combined online and offline measurements by means of skin conductance response and questionnaires. The data suggest that arousal is stronger when reading in 3rd person perspective. However, immersion, imagery and appreciation are higher when reading in 1st person perspective. With the combined methodology we get a more differentiated understanding of the underlying mechanisms of immersion.


Does reading canonical literary fiction improve theory of mind in adolescents?

J. Berenike Herrmann, Goettingen University, Germany

The increase in Theory of Mind (ToM) performance recently reported by Kidd and Castano (2013) is one more piece of evidence demonstrating an effect of fiction reading on real world social skills (e.g., Bal & Veltkamp, 2013; Gerrig, 1993; Mar & Oatley, 2008). However, the stated effect was restricted to “high literature”. Following up on this research, I extended this question to adolescents, a population that is deeply immersed in both social and literary learning. A preliminary study on a group of German high-school students (N=74) tested whether reading advanced literary or interesting non-literary texts on similar topics fosters better ToM performance. Also assessed were the degree of transportation, familiarity with literary discourse (reading exposure), aspects of literary socialization, and demographic data. Surprisingly, first results point towards a better cognitive ToM performance after reading a non-literary text.


The emotion potential of words in literary reading - An fMRI study

Chun-Ting Hsu, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Markus Conrad, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany; Universidad de La Laguna, Spain

Francesca M.M. Citron, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany; Princeton University, U.S.A.

Arthur M. Jacobs, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

We investigated whether the emotion potential of literary texts is simply a function of the emotional values of constituting words, or whether it needs more than aggregating emotionally-laden words to determine a text’s emotion potential. We selected 120 narrative passages and calculated mean word valence, mean arousal, and arousal-span (the range of arousal in a passage) based on existent word norms; then related them to BOLD signals of participants reading those passages and participants’ passage valence and arousal passage ratings. Lexical variables significantly correlated with participants’ passage ratings, and the neural activity elicited in regions involved in emotion processing, multi-modal semantic processing, and situation model updating. Further, passage valence ratings accounted for residual variance beyond lexical variables. We conclude that the emotion potential of single words significantly contributes to the emotional experience in literary reading, especially with regard to emotional salience, whereas final valence evaluation remains context-dependent.


Activity, response, and involvement in interactive books for children

Anikó Illés, Judit Bényei, Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest, Hungary

Gabriella Pataky, ELTE University of Budapest, Hungary

Zsófia Ruttkay, Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest, Hungary

Andrea Schmidt, Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design and Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

Our study aims to explore the process of interactive reading. The research integrates the methods of empirical aesthetics and media pedagogy in order to find the factors of preference for the text and the visuals. Our results show that the diverse groups of children involved in the study have different strategies of reading and interacting with an application called ‘Little Rooster’. Clear evidence and surprising tendencies are found between the way of using the application and a set of relevant variables such as the gender and social factors, learning challenges, everyday ICT usage, reading habits, age, and cultural background. Our results are relevant to a better understanding of reading and learning process in the world of interactive settings.


Free indirect discourse and perspective-taking during reading: effects of text genre

Elsi Kaiser, University of Southern California, U.S.A.

We investigated how text genre influences perspective-taking. Many linguistic expressions need a point-of-view anchor: E.g. with epithets (the idiot), we need to know whose opinion/perspective is being referred to. Theoretical linguists (e.g. Potts’05) claim such expressions are interpreted from the speaker’s perspective. But narratologists view them as cues to assume the perspective of a character, abandon the perspective of the author/speaker (e.g. Fludernik’93). We suggest this paradoxcan be resolved by considering text genre. In personal communication—e.g. email from a friend—the author has opinions, can be the perspectival center. However, in novel, the author is less available to be the perspectival center, though characters can occupy that role. Our experiments, where participants were told they were reading extracts from emails or novels, show that readers’ knowledge about text genre guides perspectival processing. Our findings also suggest we can shift point-of-view more easily using emotional cues than knowledge-based ones.


Catharsis, what is thy pleasure? A theoretical exploration of clarification

Guan Soon Khoo, Roanoke College, U.S.A.

Symposium: Aesthetic engagement during moments of suffering

This symposium paper proposal hopes to explore the gratification from engaging tragic drama. The focal gratification is a deeper form of pleasure labeled appreciation. By focusing on catharsis through an alternate conceptualization (clarification), the importance of audience’s life events is highlighted as a moderating factor of clarification (i.e., drama exposure plus self-reflection) on appreciation. To further examine the aesthetic engagement with somber narrative art (e.g., human drama), I propose four kinds of audience responses as a starting point where existential appreciation, which stems from the processes of clarification, offers the deepest kind of gratification.


The impact of reflection and remoteness of life events on drama’s pleasures

Guan Soon Khoo, Roanoke College, U.S.A.

Is tragedy pleasurable? Does it gratify differently depending on life experiences? Though humanists believe in the inherent delight of drama and tragedy, little, if any, empirical evidence supports this assumption. A 2x2 experiment was conducted to test the impact of self-reflection and individual difference in remoteness of life events on appreciation, after cinematic drama exposure. An undergraduate sample from the US (N = 68) was randomly assigned into either a film drama plus writing or film drama only group. Results showed that participants with remote negative events (≥ 2years ago) displayed increased appreciation when instructed to self-reflect after movie exposure compared to those who were only asked to watch the film. Moreover, participants with recent negative events exhibited no change in appreciation regardless of instructed contemplation. These findings suggest that having long-ago life experiences may not automatically enhance drama appreciation until one deliberately clarifies the fictional experience via contemplation.


Probing the lure of horror: a case for a biocultural, consilient criticism of narrative fiction

Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, University of Aarhus, Denmark

In this paper argues that a biocultural approach to the study of fictional narratives, with particular focus on findings from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, is necessarily a preferable alternative to the structuralist and poststructuralist paradigms which currently dominate hermeneutic scholarship. A biocultural perspective on horror proceeds from the observation that horror fiction targets evolved properties of human cognition. Neurobiology explains what those mechanisms are and how they work, and an evolutionary perspective can help us understand why they came to be. I exemplify these principles through my own reading of William Peter Blatty's 1971 horror novel The Exorcist, unraveling in the process the paradox of why we are drawn to horror, a genre that taps human cognition in ways that predictably elicit negative emotions such as disgust, anxiety, and fear.


Effects of reading literary fiction among individuals varying in alexithymia: the moderating role of narrative engagement

Sander Koole, Dalya Samur & Mattie Tops, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Alexithymia is a personality dimension defined by difficulties in recognizing and describing emotions. The present study introduces the new idea that alexithymic individuals may be helped by reading literary fiction which challenges them to consider unfamiliar feelings and experiences. Literary fiction is known to enrich social-cognitive and emotional functioning, which are the skills that are impaired in alexithymia. This idea is tested in 2 experiments examining the effects of literature-reading (versus prose) on individuals with varying levels of alexithymia. We found that literature-reading improved emotion recognition which was moderated by engagement levels. When engagement was low, high-alexithymic individuals benefited less from literature-reading than low-alexithymic individuals. When engagement was high, individuals benefited from literature-reading regardless of alexithymia level. These preliminary findings suggest that reading literary fiction may enrich emotion processing among alexithymic individuals, provided their engagement is high. The results illuminate the potential psychological benefits of reading literary fiction.


Does the literary thriller resemble literature or thrillers? An investigation into style and sentiment

Corina Koolen, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Kim Jautze, Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, The Hague, The Netherlands

The ‘literary thriller’ is a new genre in Dutch publishing. Many (professional) readers question if it is a separate genre, or merely a marketing strategy. In this paper we have investigated the text of a number of novels (originally Dutch and translated) to find out whether literary thrillers deviate from thrillers and literary novels. We have examined both style and sentiment. The style has been analyzed through sentence statistics and readability measures. We find that the language of literary thrillers is simpler than that of literary novels and resembles the thriller more than the literary novel. We have performed sentiment analysis through Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count on emotional content and physicality. Compared to the other two genres, thrillers are less concerned with both. Translated literary thrillers and literary novels do not differ; originally Dutch literary thrillers and literature do, indicating some uniqueness for the Dutch literary thriller.


Narrative and aesthetic emotions while reading about suffering

E.M. Koopman, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Symposium: Aesthetic engagement during moments of suffering

Narratives about suffering can evoke various affective responses in readers. These can roughly be divided in “aesthetic emotions” (aesthetic appreciation and perceived foregrounding), “narrative emotions” (absorption, identification and sympathy/empathy), and “empathic distress” (discomfort, pain, sorrow). This presentation discusses how these affective responses may interact while reading about suffering, how they can influence empathic and reflective responses after reading, and how this depends on reader characteristics. The focus of the presentation will be on two empirical studies conducted by the presenter. Both studies investigated the influence of affective responses and of reader characteristics (trait empathy, personal experience, and exposure to literature) on empathic understanding and reflection, with the first study comparing reactions to literary and popular texts, and the second comparing reactions to three versions of one literary text.


Reading/writing in ICT. Manouvers, tactics, and strategies

Jarosław Kopeć, The National Library of Poland

Introduction of the term of new literacies to the discussion on modern practices of reading and information comprehension in the ICT environment urges us to rethink the basic categories employed for describing and explaining reading/writing processes. Relying on this assumption, I conducted a research based on screen-capture video recordings of subjects’ process of gathering information. My primary study questions were: how does a reading/writing practice look like when conducted on a computer connected to the Internet? What are its basic elements? A secondary question was: how does the academic background of a person affect his/her data gathering and processing strategies?

My study was possible only through employment of digital tools such as screen-capturing and visualisation software.


Affective tones: investigating the relationship between sound shape and meaning in poetry

Maria Kraxenberger, Free University of Berlin, Germany

In this talk I will address results from my dissertation project on the phenomenon of phonological iconicity.

Following my hypotheses happy and sad poems differ in regard to their sound shape and readers should be able to experience such a differentiating quality. The applied hypotheses are theory driven and tested using statistical analyses.

In total 128 participants (on average 24,5 years old, 34,4 % male) rated a highly content-controlled corpus of 48 German poems, mainly from the 20th century with a pen & pencil questionnaire on emotional and aesthetic scales. These results were combined with phonological as well as other analyses on structural sound features.


Effects of deviation on absorption and evaluative responses

Moniek M. Kuijpers, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

This paper presents research into the relationships between particular textual techniques, absorbing and aesthetic reading experiences and their subsequent entertainment outcomes. It is argued that the text a reader reads determines the particular evaluative response to a story world absorption experience. Two experiments were conducted to test these hypotheses. In the first study, participants (N=51) read either one of two versions of the same story, one in its original highly deviating state and the other in a manipulated version to exclude as much deviation as possible. In the second study, participants (N=254) read either one of three versions of two different stories. In this study, a different degree of deviation was used in each version of the story. Overall, it was found that text with deviation lead to lower story world absorption scores and higher foregrounding scores than texts without deviation.


Aesthetic reflection at the limits of expressibility

Don Kuiken, University of Alberta, Canada

Symposium: Aesthetic engagement during moments of suffering

Among readers who have experienced loss or trauma, dissociation (e.g., depersonalization) after traumatic loss predicts sublime disquietude (i.e., the interactive combination of perceived discord, inexpressible realizations, and self-perceptual depth) (Kuiken & Sharma, 2013). Because dissociation involves reduced access to personal thoughts, feelings, and memories, it seems an odd companion to depth of understanding—especially self-understanding. In this presentation, I will describe how the tension between dissociation and absorption contributes to expressive reading. Studies of dissociation and aesthetic engagement suggest that dissociation provides a context within which (a) activation of the orienting response facilitates metaphor comprehension; (2) intrusive thinking facilitates metaphoric category transformation; and (3) absorption restores the metaphoric tension between is-me and is-not-me that characterizes metaphors of personal identification. In sum, dissociation may only seem like “detachment” or “distance”; it may instead create a context within which a metaphorically grounded form of aesthetic engagement occurs.


Detection of resonance across discontinuous text passages among insight oriented readers

Don Kuiken & David S. Miall, University of Alberta, Canada

Paul Campbell, MacEwan University, Canada

Readers high in absorption are especially likely to identify a felt-sense-theme and, through its explication, experience shifts in self-perception (Kuiken, Phillips, Gregus, et al., 2004). The present study explored these relationships further by determining whether readers whose literary reading is insight-oriented would similarly report engagement with resonant passages. We found that readers’ average similarity ratings for the pairs of passages they found striking or evocative were correlated with scores on the LRQ (Miall & Kuiken, 1995) Insight Orientation subscale. Also, for Owen’s “Exposure” (but not Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight”), we were able to predict which passages insight oriented readers found “resonant,” suggesting that the resonant structure of “Exposure” is more clearly evident to insight-oriented readers. In sum, insight-oriented readers were especially likely to identify discontinuous passages that were not only separately striking or evocative but that also resonated with each other to form expressive felt-sense-themes.


Experiencing tragedy: affect and cognition

Teckyoung Kwon, Kyung Hee University, Korea

The form of art is ideally suited to the experience of brain, with its dual construction of plot (or form) and character, in which one thing contrasts with another. While the reader’s split experience occurs within the unified sequence of the drama, the characters primarily stimulate sensational information for the lower portion of the brain, and the plot is associated with the higher part of the brain, which is reserved for cognition. The two elements (a form to experience and a character with which to identify) are contrasted in a step-by-step manner that fuels the tension in order to facilitate purgation. Thus, tragic failure becomes “mine,” and yet it is “not mine.” Notably, the brain has mirror neurons that enable us to sympathize with the protagonist, but it also possesses evolutionary neurons designed for recognition and learning. Reading the classic tragedy of Oedipus Tyrannus as an example, I will explore the biological dimensions of art and the reason why we need art.


Why should we feel suspense by the fate of Hauke Haien?

Gerhard Lauer & Annekathrin Schacht, Universität Goettingen, Germany

It is often stated that fiction elicits suspense even when readers know the outcome. Since the 1990th psychology reckons suspense among strong emotions (Zillmann 1996) and emphasizes the role taking by readers. As readers we feel with the character the uncertainty about the outcome of a certain situation (Vorderer 1996). In contrast to this concept of suspense we propose the direct emotional reaction of readers towards a suspense-inducing trigger (Mellmann 2007). In line with appraisal theories of emotion (Scherer 2001) we analyze for the first time by a multi-methodological series of experiments the development of narrative suspense in excerpts of literary classics from the 19th century. Data analysis revealed significant correlations of pupil diameter and the course of suspense in the selected time windows. However, there seems to be no link between the degree of emotional involvement induced by suspense and the degree of identification with the protagonist.


A multidimensional model of literary understanding for adolescent novice readers

Carol D. Lee & Sarah Levine, Northwestern University, U.S.A.

Symposium: the multidimensional nature of literary interpretation for novice adolescent readers and the demands of scaffolding their learning in school environments

This paper is submitted as part of a proposed symposium focusing on empirical supports for understanding the multidimensional nature of literary interpretation for novice adolescent readers and the demands of scaffolding their learning in school environments. The proposed construct of a multidimensional model of learning to interpret literature includes the articulation of explicit cognitive strategies, dispositions toward language, knowledge of genres, language repertoires for comprehending and for communicating one’s understandings of literature, and social cognition (repertoires for reading the internal states of others). It also addresses the need to attend to psychological resources that learners bring to learning to interpret literature: construals of the self, perceptions of literature, self-efficacy and motivation. This is an ecological model in that it assumes influences at multiple layers of an ecological system as influencing both the affordances and challenges that readers bring.


Teaching English as performance: two workshop experiments

Mara Logaldo, IULM, Italy

The presentation will illustrate two experiments in English speaking carried out in my workshop courses of English for the Media held at IULM (Milan) in 2012/13 and 2013/14. The workshops were attended by postgraduate students majoring in Film Studies and in Interpretation and Translation. This allowed me to work with a rather heterogeneous class, consisting of students with different, though complementary, competences. The purpose was to enhance the students’ self-confidence and ability to communicate in English while meeting their interests in film, literature and performative arts. The first project aimed at producing a performance inspired by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. The second project was based on a story concept to be developed into a short film. While in the former experiment the students did not appear on the set, in the latter they were overtly asked to perform in English and film their performances. The aim of the presentation is to discuss the possibilities and limits of these experiments.


Creating print media for ethnic minority youth: a case study of the use of peer-written picture storybooks in the Chinese as a second language (CSL) classroom

Elizabeth K. Y. Loh, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, ethnic minority (EM) students of South/Southeast Asian descent are encouraged to learn Chinese as a Second Language (CSL) after the 1997 Handover for social integration and empowerment. Current studies show that an integrated approach with differentiation is an effective strategy for enhancing EM students’ CSL reading and writing abilities, and the learning materials should match their mental age and their living experience whilst providing teachers sufficient room and flexibility for catering to individual differences amongst students. This paper presents a case study of the use of picture storybooks written and illustrated by other EM students on the same government-sponsored CSL support program, and the one-year teaching experiment suggests that such authentic teaching materials played a significant role in teenage students’ socialization towards integration into Hong Kong society, besides the fact that their reading and writing abilities were also improved during the learning process.


Where were they when they read? Comparisons in the use of fictional contexts from ancient narratives to narratives for silent reading

Rosamaria Loretelli, University of Napoli, Italy

Recent research has shown that the structures of stories have changed, through time, in relation to the historic changes in reading practises. Recent research has also shown that a certain degree of orality was a feature of reading (oralised reading) in the western world until the seventeenth century. Here I wish to draw attention to fictional contexts, maintaining that there were differences in their roles within ancient narratives meant to be read aloud and narratives for silent reading.

A study of how these contexts were represented will contribute to our understanding of the history of literacy and the steps that led from oral to print culture.

I shall summarize what anthropologists related about the function of context in the "performances" of the oral epics they had attended, and then analyze the representations of the fictional contexts in Chretien de Troyes' Perceval and in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.


Trust the subtext

Bill Louw, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Corpus Stylistics [CS] using reference corpora as a reliable source of variables within any literary target text was established by Louw, using Cobuild corpora of 22 million words of running text, in April, 1987 (Louw, 1989). This new approach to CS formed the basis for his theory (now proven) that ‘text reads text’. In 2008, Louw used computers to automate Bertrand Russell’s formula for a ‘perfectly logical natural language’ as having a grammar, but no vocabulary at all. The technique of wildcarding all vocabulary items in the target text was used to accomplish this. It has meant that the splitting of logic and metaphysics could now be modelled within natural language. Of the two phenomena, the latter is more accessible to intuition than the former, which is almost entirely opaque to intuition, and is effectively the subtext of the target text. This paper explores its scientific Popperian advantages for stylisics.


The socio-stylistics and statistics of The Wire’s subtitles: The game done changed...

Jane Lugea, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom

This paper investigates the English-language subtitles of HBO’s critically-acclaimed cult television drama series, The Wire. I combine a qualitative and quantitative approach and focuses on the power relations in the English subtitles of the pilot episode. Using a qualitative analysis that incorporates Hallidayan metafunctions (Halliday 1976; Halliday and Matthiessen 2004) and Culpeper’s (2001) checklist of characterisations cues, I categorise every change in the subtitles. I then use SPSS to quantify the changes and the effects on the social structure of the show. I show that the subtitles of The Wire cut many elements crucial in interpersonal meaning, such as tag questions, vocatives and discourse markers. The Baltimorese dialect, which shares many features in common with African American Vernacular English (Trotta and Blyahher 2011), is often sacrificed in the subtitles, thus linguistically and socially standardising the characters.


Narrative persuasion as a mechanism of framing effects: the mediating role of engagement with characters in crime news

Barbara Malečkar, University of Augsburg, Germany

David Giles, University of Winchester, UK

Magdalena Zawisza, Anglia Ruskin University, UK

Framing has been recently conceptualized as a heuristic process typical for persuasion through rhetoric texts. However, given the centrality of victims and perpetrators in crime news, it was investigated whether framing could be accomplished through inviting readers’ engagement with these characters. Since character engagement is key to narrative persuasion, this would establish it as a mechanism of framing effects. Two online experiments have been devised to verify the role of character engagement in framing. In the first experiment (N = 282), sympathy and perspective taking with the victim and the perpetrator mediated the impact of the article written from the perspective of the perpetrator (but not from the perspective of the victim) on character blaming. The second experiment (N = 167) confirmed character engagement as a mediator of framing effects; this mediation was moderated by factors of perceived similarity and parasocial relationship with characters. Implications for framing effects research will be discussed.


Mystery story reading in pocket print book and on Kindle: possible impact on chronological events memory

A. Mangen, University of Stavanger, Norway

P. Robinet, Nice-Sophia Antipolis University, France

G. Olivier, Nice-Sophia Antipolis University, France

J.-L. Velay, CNRS Aix-Marseille University, France

With devices such as iPad and Kindle, literary reading is increasingly digitized. Although, page by page, a text looks similar on a book page, and displayed on an e-ink Kindle screen, the ergonomic (haptic and tactile) affordances of a screen differ from those of paper. In this paper we present some findings from a between-subjects experiment comparing the reading of a mystery short story in print pocket book and on Kindle. Fifty adult participants read a 28-page mystery story in either a print, or on a Kindle. After reading, subjects completed a series of questionnaires measuring cognitive and emotional aspects. In addition, a questionnaire assessing literary reading preferences and “haptic dissonance” was administered a week after the reading session.

Results show that print readers performed better than Kindle readers when they were asked to sort story events into chronological order. Most subjects also showed an overwhelming preference for print.


Teaching literature through on-line discussion: theory and practice

Monica Manzolillo, University of Salerno, Italy

The paper focuses on the teaching of literature at University through on-line discussion. The theoretical premises for the necessity of integrating discussion-based techniques with the predominant lecture mode can be traced in the importance of modifying students’ passive and merely receptive attitude, helping them develop the fundamental skills of reading, interpreting and criticizing literary texts. Compared to live discussions, electronic modalities have the advantage of providing a more relaxed atmosphere where social conventions are less important and this encourages the positive interaction among students. The experimental use of a website as a support to the traditional literary course for the students of the University of Salerno will be illustrated. In particular, the exploitation of a forum provided in the website and used to improve the close reading skills in students of the first and second year of course will be discussed.


Approaching the «meandertale»: «translace», «translout», «transluding». On the untranslatability of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake

Gabriele Marino, University of Turin, Italy

James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake – hereafter FW – is written in a polyglot pastiche systematically employing allusive puns, aiming to simulate the polysemic language of dreams. A representation of life in the paradigm of cyclicity, the work suggests the complexity of reality is produced by a limited set of universal elements. FW challenges its readers, scholars and, moreover, translators; in order to exemplify its «untranslatability», two Italian translational attempts will be referenced: the «target oriented» one by Joyce himself and the «source oriented» one by Luigi Schenoni. FW proposes the model not of a finished work, but of a «Work in Progress», an unlimited re-creative translation game. A totemic object for such diverse authors, it represented a heuristic device for Umberto Eco, who elaborated his «cooperative interpretation» theory after it. Its nature of an extreme «limit-object» makes FW particularly useful for semiotics; a field within which it is still surprisingly little studied.


Thinking through Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s ‘Jenny’

Aurora Faye Martinez, Purdue University, U.S.A.

Dante Rossetti’s life, strewn with affairs, has colored recent scholarship about his poetry, which has focused on what his literature might reveal about him and his views on sexual love and the poet’s role. This paper will instead re-contextualize the fleshiness of Rossetti’s “Jenny” in relation to previous debates of the mind-body duality and the role of the brain in cognition. The process of reading the poem both allows the reader to trace how the speaker’s thoughts about the prostitute evolve along a divergent path from the sensory perceptions of her that evokes his sensations of lust and initial ideas and to modify his ideas. Rossetti’s poem thus enacts and enables cognition in a way that reintroduces the possibility that the “thinking” mind is not synonymous with the “perceiving” brain, a premise on which reading and the modification of the reader’s ideas through the act of reading such poetry relies.


Typology of weblog genres generated through computer-assisted meta-data analysis

Maciej Maryl, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

The aim of this study is to construct a typology of blog genres based on the categories assigned to blogs by their authors. In some blogging services authors still assign a category (or multiple categories) to their blogs, in order to “tag” the content for future readers. This study analyzes those categories and provides a model of blog genre typology based on those metadata. Study one was dedicated to the cross-platform analysis of blog categories. Through the content-analysis main groups of such categories were identified: topic; form; genre; communication; perspective. Study two was focused on the sequences of 2-3 categories in over 200 000 blogs. The analysis revealed four main groups of blogs related to such matters as (1) gossip; (2) private life; (3) leisure; (4) public sphere. Those groups can be interpreted in connection to the offline genres of a tabloid, journal, magazine and newspaper as blog genres.


Developing assessments of students’ literary reasoning: the complexity of understanding rhetorical devices

Kathryn S. McCarthy, Stephen W. Briner, Susan R. Goldman, University of Illinois at Chicago, U.S.A.

Joseph P. Magliano,Northern Illinois University, U.S.A.

Symposium: the multidimensional nature of literary interpretation for novice adolescent readers and the demands of scaffolding their learning in school environments

This presentation, part of a proposed symposium on the multidimensional nature of literary interpretation, describes the development and implementation of an assessment tool for literary interpretive reasoning and evidence-based argumentation. The kinds of interpretive problems associated with literary interpretation pose challenges for assessment in that literary works may support a variety of interpretations, depending on the text itself, students’ prior knowledge, and the task. The assessment tool provides a set of rubrics that are applied to various dimensions of argumentative essays that focus on interpreting aspects of literary texts. (e.g., reasoning that connects claims to evidence, symbolism). The rubrics have been applied to essays produced by adolescents across a range of English language arts classes. Illustrative examples of essays demonstrate the challenges inherent in this work. Nevertheless, trends in the rubric scores across different grades speak to the conceptual and methodological issues in this work as well as its utility.


Mnemonic journalism: Israeli journalists and the “new historiography” debate

Oren Meyers, University of Haifa, Israel

The paper offers a research scheme that is designated to investigate the mnemonic role of journalists via four interconnected trajectories: the first trajectory looks at the ways in which journalists provide a public stage for debates over the past and its meaning. In this capacity, journalists help popularize scholarly deliberations and contour them into routinized journalistic formats. Correspondingly, a second trajectory looks at ways by which journalists mediate developments in popular memory for the academic world. The third trajectory, discusses the ways in which journalists articulate stories of "general" communal pasts. Here the focus of my inquiry is on the ways journalistic tools are applied to construct and deconstruct narratives of the collective past. The fourth, interrelated trajectory probes the operation of journalists as agents of the memory of their own professional community. This four-level research scheme is anchored within the context of ongoing Israeli “New historians” debate.


Dionne Brand’s polyphonic poetics: the art of giving voice

Maria Lúcia Milléo Martins, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil

Symposium: poetics of resistance in the Americas

Caribbean-Canadian writer and film-maker, Dionne Brand has a long repertoire in the poetics of resistance. Brand’s writings and documentaries explore issues of displacement, race, gender, and colonialism, contesting hegemonic discourses and a nationalist aesthetics that either ignores or appropriates difference. Giving voice to what was silenced or marginalized by the dominant culture has become crucial along her career. Rather than “speaking for them,” Brand explores means of “letting them speak for themselves.” In applied terms in her poetics, this is manifested mainly through the use of polyphony, recurrent in her various writings and documentaries. Here I discuss the political implications of Brand’s use of polyphony in her poetry and two documentaries, Sisters in the Struggle and Long Time Comin’,the former giving voice to black women activists in different areas; the latter, to two black artists, Faith Nolan in music, and Grace Channer in visual arts.  


Readers' viewpoint shifts as a function of grammatical person of a protagonist during online narrative reading

Yasunori Morishima, International Christian University, Japan

Yuki Fukuda, Hosei University, Japan

Kohei Tsunemi, Iwaki Junior College, Japan

The present study addresses the effects of grammatical person of a protagonist in narrative reading. Self-paced reading experiments showed that a protagonist’s emotion was inferred during comprehension, and that the reading time was longer for third-person narratives than first- or second-person narratives. We hypothesized that readers shift their viewpoints to put themselves in the protagonist’s position. To test this, we had participants read passages at a controlled pace with an estimated minimal reading time and perform lexical decision. The results produced a significant effect of grammatical person showing that emotion inference was slower for third-person narratives than for second-person narratives. We argue that this is because the readers failed to put themselves in the protagonist’s position due to the rapid controlled reading rate. In conclusion, to engage themselves in the story, readers shift their viewpoint from an ego-centric perspective to the protagonist’s during comprehension.


The ludic shift. Game testing as embedded empirical study of user response.

Ivan Mosca, University of Turin, Italy

This paper is aimed to show that the empirical study of literature, text and media can make use of some findings from informatics, and in particular from game studies: indeed games are the most important digital mass media, first in chronology and by diffusion. Games are the result of a complete fusion of hot and cool media (McLuhan 1964) and their evolution (Bogost 2006) shows the same paths of contemporary literature (Nemesio 1990). The study of player response is currently made by game testing, a practice that is included in the very production of games (Meyer 2008). Game testing is the empirical study of a single ludic text (token) and a systematic study of the tester response could provide a platform for the empirical analysis of the game text in general (type). The different phases of game testing could be usefully implemented in the empirical study of literature texts.


The reading of A la recherche du temps perdu – some clues

Samira Murad, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Firmly established in the Western canon as one of the most important texts of the 20th century, Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu is also known amongst undergraduates and readers in general as a difficult book to read. But, what is the nature of that difficulty? This is one of the questions I tried to answer in my PhD. In order to do so, I analysed some of the empirical data available to the researcher: the first historical reception of Proust’s novel between 1913 and 1918, before the publication of its second volume. These findings were then compared to the reading impressions of some 21st century undergraduates starting to read the same first volume as the 1913-1918 readers. The differences and similarities in their responses provided some invaluable clues to what happens to empirical readers when they venture in Proust’s novel.


Reading film

Aldo Nemesio, University of Turin, Italy

Book reading has shifted from a form of socialization, when books were commonly read aloud, to forms of solitary reading. It is possible that at the beginning of the third millennium we are witnessing a similar evolution in the use of films, related to the availability of technologies that make personalized film watching of films possible, in a way that is similar to reading a book. Empirical data were collected, concerning possible changes in contemporary film watching practices. A picture of a complex situation emerged. Although almost all respondents make use of new self-timed watching technologies, going to the cinema is the preferred form. Almost half the subjects do not watch films all in a single session, but interruptions are due to practical reasons: if possible, they would prefer to continue up to the end. Subjects are overall divided in evaluating the importance of interruptions.


Adaptation studies and empirical aesthetics

Pascal Nicklas, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany

Adaptation Studies has long moved beyond the paradigm of Literature-on-Screen. Linda Hutcheon’s seminal A Theory of Adaptation (2006/2012) has – despite its in­novative approach – somewhat hesitantly opened up a vista embracing a wide array of intermedial relations characterized by adaptation as process and product. Re­cent developments (e.g. Adaptation, Nicklas/Voigts 2013) also include effects of media convergence and participatory culture (Convergence Culture, Jenkins 2006) endowing adaptive terminology with an even greater openness. This more recent change in research strategies away from literature-film restrictions to a rather fundamental aesthetics of adaptation is also inclusive of empirical methodologies in empirical aesthetics and neuroaesthetics.

While presenting recent research from our lab, this paper will discuss the potential and pitfalls of the resonances in evolutionary biology of research in adaptation studies: in­ter­disciplinary research between the humanities and the sciences requires a lot of trans­la­tional work in theory and methodology including heuristic reductionism regularly ab­horred by the humanities. At the same time, detailed empirical research requires spe­cu­lative and theoretically well-founded visions reaching far beyond the actual work in the lab to contextualize experimental procedures. Adaptation studies may in this context re­veal connections between aesthetic pleasure and dopaminergic effects of neuronal cir­cuits effective in learning protocols. This might shed light on the biological evolutionary origins of some of pleasures we take in literature.


The explicit benefits of reading fiction. Focus group discussions among young adults

Kersti Nilsson, University of Boras, Sweden

Reading literature in printed books has reached a crucial point today among young adults, who now spend more time a day on digital devices. The question is, then, how attitudes towards reading literature for personal and social development appear in this group at present. Theories used are psychology and phenomenology in reading. Data was collected from 9 focus-group interviews including 45 respondents, 16-25 years old. Results showed that attitudes towards reading literature in printed books were positive. It was also found that this type of reading experience aroused emotions, particularly when descriptive language was used with many details, making one “listen to one’s own voice” and see “pictures in one’s mind”. Other benefits found were self-reflexivity, practice in the use of judgement and imagination, and the shaping of identity.


Contingencies of value redux

Zachary P. Norwood, University of Auckland, New Zealand

In her most influential work, Contingencies of Value, Barbara Herrnstein Smith argued that all literary evaluations emerge from competing, historically relative norms. There can be no science of value—no “axiological” system—that could predict any work’s success or failure; what makes a work’s value is always its socially relative receptions. This essay challenges this conclusion, arguing that there is an evolutionary basis for “natural kinds” of value that can be used to predict a work’s success or failure, irrespective of its reception. However, this essay also argues that it may be impossible to reach any kind of general consensus on a particular work’s “ultimate value,” since the process of valuing a work is fundamentally emergent, that is, how we value literature depends on recognizing socially embodied norms, beliefs, and preferences. The “ontology” of literary value may thus always include properties represented outside the text, properties reflecting historically contingent norms.


The interrelation of cognitive and emotional responses during film viewing – the effect of the causal structure of narratives

Orsolya Papp-Zipernovszky, University of Szeged, Hungary

Katalin Bálint, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands

Andras Balint Kovacs, Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary

In the empirical research of aesthetic response there is an urgent need to determine the interrelation of cognitive and emotional reactions. Following claims by Halász and László that the comprehension of the protagonist’s intentions is not independent of the emotional processes during reading, we designed an experiment in which two filmic narratives with different causal structures were shown to a sample of 17 university students. The online responses of the viewers have been content-analyzed based on a system of causal as well as of emotional categories. According to the results the emotional category ’interest’ correlated with almost all causal categories during both film-viewings. However, the emergence of more specific emotions toward the characters diverged highly according to the causal structure of the film. In the case of the classical linear filmic narrative, causal responses correlated with ’empathy’ and ’mentalization’, while in response to the non-causal, episodic filmic narrative it was the emotional category ’moral judgment’, that correlated with causal categories. These results suggest that the causal structure of the filmic narrative controls the type of the emotions emerging in the viewer that contributes to the comprehension of the narrative.


Learning from what is not true? The attitudes of 158 young readers to fictional and factual narratives

Torsten Pettersson, Uppsala University, Sweden

Attitudes to fictionality profoundly inform the reading of fiction but are rarely thematized in scholarship. In this study in two parts, participants: 1) preferred factual narratives in principle but not in practice when faced with a narrative presented, respectively, as fictional or factual; 2) did not feel that substituting fictionality for factuality, or vice versa, would change their story response; 3) supported the idea that “you can learn something from made-up stories” and gave three interesting reasons for it; 4) yet overwhelmingly read for pleasure rather than social orientation or personal development. Thus the positive effects of reading fiction measurable in scholarship seem to be neither conscious nor automatic, pace Nussbaum and her followers, but incidental to the goal of entertainment. Consequently, to foster such effects, educators are well advised to utilize and reorient their students’ devotion to the enjoyable escapism offered by fiction.


An item response theory analysis of fiction and nonfiction print-exposure checklists

Marina Rain, Katrina Fong, Justin B. Mullin & Raymond A. Mar, York University, Canada

There is a growing interest in the divergent social, cognitive, and emotional outcomes associated with reading fiction and nonfiction. It is important to develop measures that can reliably capture genre-specific reading behaviour, especially since fiction and nonfiction reading tend to be highly correlated. The Author Recognition Test (ART) has been adapted to measure print-exposure to various genres and is routinely used in reading research (e.g., Mar et al., 2006; Fong et al., 2013). However, little is known about the psychometric properties of genre-specific versions of the ART. Understanding the psychometric properties of these measures has important implications for the analysis and interpretation of research data. This paper will present an analysis of two genre-specific versions of the ART using Item Response Theory to determine the validity, measurement precision, and difficulty levels of these tests. Implications and suggestions for future test development will be discussed.


Towards a new critical understanding of Ancient Egyptian rhetorical literary devices

Hany Rashwan, University of London, United Kingdom

The paper is investigating the possibility of offering new, closer, analytical readings of Ancient Egyptian literary rhetorical devices, based on Arabic rhetorical methodology. There are few studies concerned with this rhetorical aspect of Ancient Egyptian literature, and their arguments are built on the definitions of western rhetorical devices with its historical Greco-Roman background, developed in specific contexts of production and perception. My argument is that Ancient Egyptian rhetorical devices must be studied on a comparative basis, and without cognate languages it would remain virtually incomprehensible; rhetorical linguistic comparisons may clarify otherwise obscure points and are able to give a better understanding of Egyptian rhetorical devices. A new approach is necessary, I argue, in order to employ the main principle of the linguistic comparative system: “Languages should never be compared in isolation if closer relatives are at hand” (Greenberg, 1971, 22).

The paper will examine this new comparative-rhetorical reading, using a little studied praise poem of Ramses II as an example of how this analysis can provide new insights into the aesthetic richness, and confirm the structural integrity of such compositions.


The narrator in picture book stories for very young children

Marie Luise Rau, Germany

In a changing world of literary socialisation picture books still have a place in children’s basic literary experience. Picture books introduce them to multiple ways of story telling. Evidence will illustrate how narrativistic categories derived from adult literature (Fludernik, 2003) can be applied on the picture book level. Role of the narrator, age of the child reader and subject matter are interrelated. Bearing in mind children‘s linguistic and cognitive development (ToM), picture book artists use the verbal and pictorial modalities to support comprehension. Rooted in orality the first-person narrator does not pose a problem (cf. Nodelman, 1991). Already on the preschool level story telling can become quite complex with links to other media. Present-day picture books tend to blend the verbal with the visual narrative (iconographic elements, typography, etc.) to the extend where the child reader co-operates with the narrator/author in constructing the story. I will discuss its effect on forming a story concept and on reading habits.


Encyclopedic novel and hypertextuality. From Finnegans Wake to Gravity’s Rainbow

Simone Rebora, Università degli Studi di Verona, Italy

In the shift between modernity and postmodernity, my presentation will analyze the mutations in the genre of “encyclopedic novel”, stressing the increasing importance of the concept of hypertextuality. First, I will consider James Joyce’s last oeuvre, Finnegans Wake (1939), as an ante litteram example of hypertext, as shown in the work of its interpreter, Roland McHugh; second, I will analyze the project pynchonwiki.com, with a particular focus on Thomas Pynchon’s third novel, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973). While showing the connections between these two case studies (culminating in the finnegansweb.com project), my presentation will also examine the more significant distinctions: in the reviving role of the narration, after its implosion in the linguistic structures of Finnegans Wake; in the increasing number and anonymity of the interpreters, more and more coincident with the entire reading community.


Point of view in Horror: A True Tale and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Ilaria Rizzato, University of Genoa, Italy

My paper will look at two works of Gothic fiction, namely Horror: A True Tale, published by an anonymous writer in Blackwood’s Magazine (1861) and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R.L. Stevenson (1886). Particularly, it will look at point of view as a key factor in the texts as well as in Gothic fiction in general, as it plays a pivotal role in sustaining suspense throughout the text and in triggering a reaction – whether of horror, anxiety or uneasiness – in the reader.

The linguistic resources through which point of view is represented in both texts will be identified and analysed, so that the different effects the texts achieve through the respective representations of point of view may be explained and compared.


Hungarian women's literature in Polish publishing market

Magdalena Roguska, University of Warsaw, Poland

The article deals with the presence of Hungarian women's literature in Polish publishing market from the second half of the twentieth century until nowadays.

Hungarian literature, written both by women and men, is hardly known in Poland and in spite of many excellent translations from Hungarian to Polish it does not play a proper role in Polish literary discourse. One of a few exceptions is represented by Sándor Márai or Péter Esterházy, worldwide known Hungarian writers, whose works are discussed not only in the contexts connected with their nationality.

In the same time the works of Hungarian women writers are almost completely absent both in Polish literary discourse, as well as in Polish publishing market. Such situation might change thanks to the shortly expected publication of a thematic issue of a Polish leading periodical entitled „Literatura na Świecie” [Literature All Over the World] which will be devoted to the contemporary Hungarian women's literature.


llustration, interaction and text in interactive books for early readers

Zsófia Ruttkay, Moholy-Nagy Művészeti Egyetem, Budapest, Hungary

Emőke Varga, Szegedi Tudományegyetem, Szeged, Hungary

The topic of our research is the co-existence of different media: (interactive) illustrations and (written and/or spoken) text in (interactive) books for early readers. We propose a reference framework to be able to describe and compare static and interactive illustrations and particularly, their relationship to the text illustrated. We address for static illustrations inter-referential relationships, levels of analogies, aesthetis, and for the time-based aspects: multimodality, role and effect, activation and dynamism of text. We illustrate the framework with examples from 8 printed and our own interactive edition of the folk-tale tale “Little Rooster and his Diamond Halfpenny”.

We believe that with our presentation, and with active feedback from the interdisciplinary audience, we can contribute to a very much needed reference framework to start discourse and evaluation of interactive books, and the time-based multimedia content.


The effectiveness of rhetorical figures in literary reading

Massimo Salgaro, University of Verona, Italy

Rhetorical figures have since ever been considered as typical linguistic features of literary language. Since the classical times of rhetoric, rhetorical figures have been classified on the basis of their textual form (schemes) and their unusual meaning (tropes). In our research we would like to take more into account their impact on the literary reader and the cognitive elaboration they demand.

Our experiment has examined whether particular rhetorical figures are processed differently depending on the genre of the text they belong to. The results have shown that exposure to different linguistic genres affect people’s sensitivity to rhetorical figures. In addition, we have noticed that reading time was shorter for oxymora than for synesthesiae and personifications. All these results show the necessity to distinguish better the impact of rhetorical figures on the reader.


Like it or not. The sociosemiotic analysis of a Tv programme in the age of the productive audience

Antonio Santangelo, University of Turin, Italy

In the last few years television studies have had to integrate in their analyses the data produced by an active audience which comments on the programmes on Facebook or Twitter – often while watching them – and participates to the virtual communities of Tv serials fan, to the debates raised in the blogs of critics or to the thematic newsgroups dedicated to television. Some new analysis methodologies have seen the light, such as netnography or sentiment analyses, and even some new research fields, such as the fandom studies. Here the focus is on how sociosemiotics should deal with this kind of data in its quest for the social and cultural meaning of television programmes.


Online edutainment videos: expert discourse and knowledge dissemination recontextualised in TED talks

Laura Santini, University of Genoa, Italy

The dissemination of knowledge (DK) through online videos is gaining popularity. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) as well as other websites - such as KahnAcademy - have re-conceptualised and recontextualised expert discourse. TED Talks, a series of international video-recorded conferences delivered through the internet for free, have become a new edutainment and a web genre in themselves. Originally aimed at “bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design”,TED Talks’scope has become broader featuring specialised discourse from domains such as Business, Health, Arts, and many more. Moreover, thanks to a subtitling project based on crowdsourcing, TED Talks are available in 150 languages. This paper aims at describing some of the distinctive features and communicative practices of TED Knowledge Dissemination discourse through pragmatics and corpus linguistics as well as at analysing some of their narratives and persuasive linguistic techniques.


The novelistic remediation of digital media in the fictions of Foer and Powers

Hyewon Shin, Korea University, Korea

This paper discusses two contemporary American fictions, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2005) and Richard Powers’s Plowing the Dark (2000), with respect to their remediation of digital media appropriating its effects and techniques to recalibrate the novel form. Following Bolter and Grusin’s definition, I regard Foer’s fiction as a printed novel “refashioning” the journal format via the digital media genre of a blog (web log). The whole novel, read as a paper blog, is not just a book to read but an artifact to see and experience. Powers’s Plowing the Dark erases the conventional distinction between old and new media by showing that language is the common ground for both literature and virtual reality. Reminding us of the command mode of early computer games, the unique second-person narration provides the readers with an experience of immersion into the text, the effect often associated with digital media.


Observations on performance: new perspectives for theatre in the frame of empirical studies of literature

Mariana Simoni, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Departing from the specific conceptions on literature and society of Empirical Studies of Literature, which are grounded on communication models built upon constructivist and systemic presuppositions (Schmidt, Luhmann), this paper proposes a theoretical and transdisciplinary perspective focussing the contributions of this field to the area of Theatre Studies. Taking for granted the methodological transition from questions about entities and substances towards action-orientation or actor-based processes (Schmidt), the paper will explore the concept of performativity in the context of dynamic social new redefinitions of notions of text, literature, and interpretation. In this sense, the paper will emphasize the social role of literature and – as one of its related media – theatre. The work of German theatre director René Pollesch will be taken as dispositive to approach these theoretical questions.


“How a whole is made”: Russian Formalists’ theoretical practices and empirical models

Stefania Sini, Università del Piemonte Orientale Amedeo Avogadro, Italy

Presenting some examples from the works of Boris Eikhenbaum, Roman Jakobson, Iurii Tynianov, this paper would like to reflect again on the contribution offered by “formal method” to the concrete analysis of literary texts and on the theoretical elaboration, never separated from the critical practice, conducted within the movement and directed towards a notion of “form”, which, in its various interpretations, will later become “structure”, “system”, “device”, “whole”. We will focus on the concept of “dominant”, on its theoretical significance and its heuristic value in the textual applications. We will also examine some differences in approach, scientific style, cultural politics, between Opojaz in St. Petersburg/Pietrograd/Leningrad and Mlk in Moscow, with particular regard to the relationships between linguistic and poetics.


The quality of reading – a theoretical approach

Kjell Ivar Skjerdingstad, University College of Oslo and Akershus, Norway

This paper explores the quality of the reading experience. The material is reviews on literature written by students in secondary school. Though the texts are written as answers to a mandatory question of assessing the book, we see that the reviewers more are exploring and developing their own identity and subjectivity in relation to the book. To grasp this process we suggest using the term quality of reading. Subsequently to measure a good reading we propose Michel de Montaigne’s concept of tempering which refers to the art of navigating basically between life and death in a balanced or attuned way.


Moments of being during literary reading

Paul Sopcak, MacEwan University, Canada

Symposium: Aesthetic engagement during moments of suffering

The proposed paper builds on previous studies and Virginia Woolf’s works describing moments of profound insight, which further explicate participants’ commentaries on literary texts involving loss and trauma. Particularly Virginia Woolf’s (1976) notion of “moments of being” standing out from the “cotton wool of daily life” will come into play. These exceptional moments Woolf refers to are described as powerful moments of insight, which continue to resonate, shape future experience, and demand reflective expression.

I argue that literary reading can afford such “moments of being.” Regardless of whether these moments are affirmative or coloured by resignation, they seem to be experienced as overpowering, paralyzing, and involving a sense of powerlessness that threatens one’s sense of agency and self. The main focus of my paper will be on the nature of the vulnerability experienced during these exceptional moments.


The project and the surprise: invisible, “sensitive space” and meanings in writing and reading stories

Giampaolo Spinato, University of Venice, Italy

A short collection of empirical observations on the dynamics of production and participation in fiction and literary texts in educational settings. The individual management of emotion and cognition in literary reading processes. Samples, comments and remarks about individual behavior related with texts, as well as their own behavior, collected through two decades of creative writing teaching.


Average information content as a literary and narrative measure in fiction

Matthias Springer, University of Munich, Germany

This paper is a proposal to utilize aspects of information theory to detect and predict the density of narrativity or literariness in fictional texts. In such a concept, both qualities are seen as a kind of information coded symbolically in, and transmitted by, the text. Textual features like tension, focalization, narrator’s point of view or poetic and aesthetic aspects of language are seen as symbols of narrativity or literariness. Examining the distribution of such features, and calculating the probability that they would appear, enables the operationalization of narrativity or literariness by calculating the average information content of these features. The higher the value, the safer the prediction is that the quality of a fiction is linked to literariness or narrativity. In my contribution, I applied this method to predict the potential of a narration to cause a comic effect. For this, subjects coded the simplest narrated entities, events, that were marked as normal or potentially humorous. In a post hoc study the same subjects were asked about the humorous quality of the texts. The experiment suggests a correlation between the calculated entropy of narrated humour, within the narrated story, and the response of the intended humour of the narration.


Literature as mortality salience?

Matthias Springer & Willie van Peer, University of Munich, Germany

The present paper will investigate the extent to which descriptions of death in literature act as a trigger for ‘mortality salience’ as it has been maintained in Terror Management Theory (TMT). According to the theory, reminiscences of death create mental and cultural defense mechanisms against the consciousness of our own annihilation. Usually, these defense mechanisms are of a conservative and traditionalist nature, If so, then the question may be raised whether literature, in which death is frequently a topic, may not also function as a trigger. This would then imply that literature mainly confirms entrenched cultural ideas. But such a view is contrary to some literary theories that grant literature the power to change and innovate society. And some evidence from literature and censorship studies seem to confirm this role of literature as an engine of progress. How then is this to be reconciled with TMT?

In this paper we will present data from some reading experiments that may throw light on the above issue.


Aesthetics, institutions, and the empirical study of literary response

Bartosz Stopel, University of Silesia, Poland

Many of the cognitively-oriented scholars working in the area of the empirical study of literary response seem to rely heavily on the distinction into the institutional and the natural approach to reading literature. The literary institution is often seen as a set of conventional reading strategies which have little in common with the experience of ordinary readers; consequently, owing to its arbitrary nature it is deemed not suitable for the empirical study of literary reading.

Drawing from the outline of the literary institution, as introduced to analytic philosophy of art I argue for a moderately naturalist understanding of the literary institution, which is, thus, eligible for empirical study. Comparing some of the cited responses, or strategies, of untutored and professional readers suggests that the latter is not entirely separate from the former, as aesthetic appreciation seems to employ similar cognitive processes related to attending the work and stem from the reading procedures of untutored readers, questioning the supposition that professional reading is based on a special, arbitrarily set attitude.


From literature to speech corpora and back again. An empirical study of conceptual metaphor

Joanna Szwabe, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland

Jakub Bartoszewicz, Adam Mickiewicz University; Poznan University of Technology, Poland

Figures of speech such as metaphors typical for literature are also found in ordinary language when the cognitive perspective is adopted. We will present a part of the study conducted on the Corpus of Dialogs of Disabled Speakers, focusing on metaphors. The corpus method, annotation and techniques of text analysis will be outlined. Quantitative and qualitative results of the study of metaphors in the speech of disabled subjects as opposed to the controls will be discussed. As one of the possible applications of metaphor research, we will show how patterns of figurative language use found in corpora can be applied to design tools for automated retrieval and tagging of literary texts.


Dealing with reception deception

Rémi Armand Tchokothe, University of Bayreuth, Germany

This paper addresses unsatisfactory reactions that three de-familiarizing works couched in Swahili brought about in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The working hypothesis is that readers ‘frustration’ echoes a wide gap between texts and readers’ literary socialisation and horizons of expectations, which raises a question about the Swahili literary field as a whole. The paper will focus on empirical research that aimed at coming up with an ethnography of book production and reading. For this purpose, literary agents belonging to two categories were distinguished. On the one hand, interviews were conducted with experts such as book reviewers, editors, critics and authors. On the other hand, reading sessions were run with students in order to contrast their views to those of experts. The paper will round up by introducing a local and innovative approach to engage with reception deception.


Interpretative agreement in a fragmented, multilayered short story with little cohesion

Cecilia Therman, University of Helsinki, Finland

I. A. Richards (1964), Norman Holland (1975) and David Bleich (1981) have all provided empirical results suggesting that interpretation is highly idiosyncratic. Martindale and Dailey (1995) have questioned this view in relation to poetry, and Therman (2008; 2011) in relation to rather cohesive short stories. This paper examines what happens when the short story is fragmented, has little cohesion and seems to offer many different interpretative paths to follow. The respondents are high school students from Finland and two international schools located in Zimbabwe and Swaziland. The main result is that even when the text is complex and open to many interpretative possibilities, the readers tend to centre on a few main interpretations, very much in the way established in my previous studies with less complex texts.


Highlights and lowlights: tracking reader response online

Bronwen Thomas, Bournemouth University, United Kingdom

One of the affordances of the current crop of ereaders is that they offer users various ways of sharing their reading online. Whilst recent studies of ereading provide an overview of some of these ‘enhancements’, to date little attention has been paid to exploring them in relation to a specific text, or with regard to the specific responses of actual readers.

This paper will present an analysis of the highlighting feature on the Amazon Kindle with particular reference to Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The paper will consider what might be learned from this analysis in terms of reader preferences and practices. It will then go on to examine how far reader responses align with professional critics’ interpretations of the novel across both academic studies and journalistic reviews.


Literary discourse and local repercussions: Paulo Coelho and the cultural practice in Santiago de Compostela, capital of Galicia.

Elías José Torres Feijó & María Luisa Fernández Rodríguez, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Since the 1990’s, the Caminho de Santiago has known an extraordinary revitalization. Besides the discourses delivered by the Catholic Church, UNESCO and EU, Paulo Coelho's The Pilgrimage is the one with a wither scope and incidence on the images and cultural practices related to Santiago de Compostela as the goal of the trail.

This incidence, channeled through different media, has modified Compostela’s shopping range in iconic areas as well as social and cultural practices among the inhabitants of the city, affecting Compostela’s and Galician identity.

This paper constitutes an approach to this case, combining anthropological and sociological analysis with empirical work, pointing out theoretical-methodological developments required for the analysis of this phenomena, as the concepts of affective and identity sustainability; groups influenced by literary texts; visitors as consumers of the city; hierarchies of visions of the city foe different groups; determination of macro-models for reception of texts and ideas.


Intransparent fictional minds and empathic responses

Doreen Triebel, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany

Our Theory of Mind does not only play an important role in our daily social interactions but also in the understanding and appreciation of literary texts. In stories, authors can manipulate the degree to which readers are able to mentalize, granting either privileged insights into a character’s mind or precluding the reader from mindreading. Basing my argumentation on empirical data, I propose to show that a character’s position on this continuum, ranging from transparent to opaque, has significant effects on the reader’s empathic responses towards him/her and specifically to the amount of empathy that is evoked by the text. The paper will demonstrate that the reduction of insights into a character’s mind can influence the reader’s moral judgements and that it can be a significant element in the creation of villainous characters or in othering.


Experimenting with the Imagination

Emily T. Troscianko, St John’s College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Mental imagery is the object of a long-standing debate in cognitive science: does imagery operate by means of mental pictures or language-like representations? A deadlock has developed between the pictorialist and the propositionalist positions, but more recent enactivist accounts offer a promising alternative. Reading fiction epitomises the pleasurable guided imaginative experience, but work on imaginative responses to real literature is rarely incorporated into scientific thinking on the visual imagination. Yet the literary text, as a concrete and manipulable stimulus to imagining, could form the basis of a programme of empirical work on the imagination that sidesteps some of the limitations of existing research. I discuss the results of two empirical studies on Kafka that offer evidence against the dominant pictorialist view and for the enactivist view, and argue that cognitive literary science can contribute systematically to the scientific imagery debate.


Anyone came to live here some time ago

Willie van Peer, University of Munich, Germany

Anna Chesnokova, Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University, Ukraine

Stylistics started some 45 years ago, with Geoffrey Leech and Roger Fowler as the major protagonists of the new approach, vying for attention and prestige against the more traditional literary criticisms. One of the major discussions of the time turned around the poem ‘anyone lived in a pretty how town’ by e.e. Cummings, especially about the heavy foregrounding that may be observed in the text. Another paper at this conference (van Peer & Hakemulder) expresses doubts as to whether stylistics has much advanced since then. In this paper we argue that there is one major exception: empirical stylistics, which grew out of the initial work on foregrounding by Leech and Fowler.

In this paper we will show the results of an empirical study in reactions to the poem by Cummings, which will illuminate the way in which beginning vs. advanced students of English react to foregrounding devices in the text.


Empirical studies of literature in Brazil

Daniela Versiani, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In my paper I will present an outline on empirical studies of literature in Brazil, focusing on Departments of Literature in Universities located at Rio de Janeiro state. I will offer at first some information on the reception of “empirical literature science” (CEL in Portuguese) and on the diffusion of texts by authors related to the NIKOL group, whose first circulation in Brazil is due mainly to translations made by Heidrun Kriger Olinto still in the 1990’s. Then I will to point out researchers who, working at Universities such as PUC-Rio, UFRJ, and UFF, assume empirical perspectives, describing their research projects and their theoretical and methodological backgrounds. Finally, I will present some explanatory assumptions for the still rare presence - at least in my view - of theories that assume empirical perspectives in Departments of Literature in Brazil.


Dying to know: a preliminary biocultural investigation of morbid curiosity

Satine von Gersdorff, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Morbid curiosity is a well known behavior that is, for example, exploited by news headlines to arrest our attention. However, the phenomenon has received little scholarly attention. I investigate the existing theories of morbid curiosity, and, finding them insufficient, I present a theory rooted in evolutionary psychology. In order to establish the existence of morbid curiosity, I conducted a preliminary experiment on 17 people. I exposed them to 30 images with morbid, neutral, and aesthetically pleasing content and measured the time spent looking at each image. My results showed that participants spent significantly more time looking at images with morbid content, indicating that morbid curiosity does exist. I conclude that morbid curiosity is a real and functional behavior that deserves scientific attention and should be subjected to further theoretical and empirical investigation.


Terms used to designate and evaluate the aesthetic appeal of literature

Valentin Wagner & Christine Knoop, Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt, Germany

Thomas Jacobsen, Helmut Schmidt University - University of the Federal Armed Forces, Hamburg, Germany

Winfried Menninghaus, Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt, Germany

Which terms do readers use to designate their aesthetic appreciation of literature? We investigated the conceptual structure of the aesthetic appeal of literature following the lead of Jacobsen and colleagues (2004, Psychological Reports). 1544 students were asked to write down the adjectives they use to designate/evaluate the aesthetic appeal of literature in general or of one of five literary genres (novels, short stories, poems, plays, or comedies). Analyses of the frequencies, mean list-ranks and the Cognitive Salience Index revealed that ‘beautiful’ and ‘suspenseful’ were the most important terms. Regarding the genres, we found specific differences like the importance of select emotions for plays and comedies, and of cognitive-affective states for novels and shorts stories, or the affinity of poetry to music. In a further step, we compared the frequency pattern of the aesthetically evaluative adjectives used for literature with those identified by similar studies for visual aesthetics and music.


The books of the hour – modern Italian novels as a corpus to up-date foreign students’ cultural and linguistic competence

Karolina Wolff, University of Warsaw, Poland

Books are divided into two classes, the books of the hour and the books of all time. – once English art critic and social thinker, John Ruskin, said. The proposal aims to show how books of so called new generation can be a useful and powerful tool to teach Italian language and culture in class. Brizzi, Culicchia, Incorvaia, Rimassa and many others will be our guides in the world of new Italian habits, interests (also those of cinema and art) social structure and language evolution. On one hand we will observe cultural references of the writers and by them, also those of the modern italiano medio. On the other hand we will also notice the influence and the strong position of anglicisms and slang. It’s a journey to the present.


Modeling the relationships between language skills and sentence comprehension among Chinese junior elementary graders

Xiao-Yun Xiao, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

The present study examined the contributions of vocabulary knowledge, syntactic skills, and oral narrative skills to sentence reading comprehension among Chinese junior elementary school children. Various language and reading measures were administered to 85 Chinese normally-achieving children from Grade 2 to Grade 3 in Hong Kong. Results showed that vocabulary knowledge and oral narrative skills contributed significantly to word order skills, an important syntactic skill in Chinese. Vocabulary knowledge contributed to word recognition directly and contributed to sentence comprehension indirectly through word recognition and syntactic skills; and syntactic skills contributed to sentence comprehension directly. These findings suggest that while vocabulary knowledge is important for Chinese word reading, syntactic word order plays a central role in Chinese sentence comprehension.


a cura del CISI - Centro Interstrutture di Servizi Informatici e Telematici per le Facoltà Umanistiche