Everyday knowledge in understanding fictional characters and their worlds
23 Jun 2014-
TL;DR: In this article, the authors look closer at the common claim made in recent cognitive literary studies that the audience's everyday world knowledge is the core mechanism in understanding characters in fiction and discuss in particular four crucial aspects of reading fiction that are missing in Sanford and Emmott's model.
Abstract: The question of how readers use general everyday knowledge in reading fictional narratives has been the subject of lively debate in narrative and literary theory in recent decades. In this paper, I will look closer at the common claim made in recent cognitive literary studies that the audience's everyday world knowledge is the core mechanism in understanding characters in fiction. More precisely, I will focus on Anthony J. Sanford and Catherine Emmott's treatment of the question of characterization – that is, the representation and making sense of characters in narrative fiction – in their recent work Mind, Brain and Narrative (2012), in order to address the issue of relevant inferences about fictional characters. I will discuss in particular four crucial aspects of understanding characters in fiction that are missing in Sanford and Emmott's model. These aspects concern the reader's knowledge of what kinds of characters may exist in fiction, the role of narrative mediation in fiction, knowledge of genre, and intertextual information. Unlike Sanford and Emmott, who emphasize the writer's rhetorical control over the reader's act of cognition, I consider these aspects to be conventions of reading that both readers and writers apply in narrative understanding.
21 Feb 2020
TL;DR: The work in this paper explores how narratives of environmental and personal transformation in contemporary ecological science fiction can develop more-than-human modes of embodied experience, and traces and describes experiential changes that take place while reading works of science fiction, and synthesizes these approaches into a method of close reading, performative enactivism, that helps to articulate bodily, environmental, and morethanhuman aspects of readerly engagement.
Abstract: Reading Mutant Narratives explores how narratives of environmental and personal transformation in contemporary ecological science fiction can develop more-thanhuman modes of embodied experience. More specifically, it attends to the conflicted yet potentially transformative experientiality of mutant narratives. Mutant narratives are viewed as uneasy hybrids of human-centered and posthumanist science fiction that contain potential for ecological understanding. Drawing on narrative studies and empirical reading studies, the dissertation begins from the premise that in suitable conditions, reading fiction may give rise to experiential change. The study traces and describes experiential changes that take place while reading works of science fiction. The bodily, subjective and historical conditions of reading are considered alongside the generic contexts and narrative features of the fictional works studied. As exemplary cases of mutant narratives, the study foregrounds the work of three American science fiction authors known for their critiques of anthropocentrism and for their articulations of more-than-human ecologies: Greg Bear, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Jeff VanderMeer. While much of contemporary fiction naturalizes embodied experience and hides their own narrative strategies, mutant narratives have the potential to defamiliarize readers’ notions of bodies and environments while also estranging their embodied experience of reading fiction. As a theoretical contribution to science fiction studies, the study considers such a readerly dynamic in terms of embodied estrangement. Building on theoretical and practical work done in both embodied cognitive and posthumanist approaches to literature, the study shows how engagements with fictional narratives can, for their part, shape readers’ habitual patterns of feeling and perception. These approaches are synthesized into a method of close reading, performative enactivism, that helps to articulate bodily, environmental, and more-thanhuman aspects of readerly engagement. Attending to such experiential aspects integrates ecological science fiction more deeply into the contemporary experiential situation of living with radical environmental transformation.
TL;DR: The authors examines recent theories of fictional characters and raises the issue of how far characters can be understood with reference to human intersubjectivity, and examines the relation between characters and human subjectivity.
Abstract: This article examines recent theories of fictional characters, and raises the issue of how far characters can be understood with reference to human intersubjectivity. On the one hand, empirical res...
Cites background from "Everyday knowledge in understanding..."
05 Nov 2002
TL;DR: In this paper, the effects of personal involvement in Narrative Discourse Processes have been studied in the context of discourse processes, with a focus on personal involvement. But they do not consider the role of the speaker.
Abstract: (2004). The Effects of Personal Involvement in Narrative Discourse. Discourse Processes: Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 169-172.
TL;DR: The principle of suspension of modal claims was introduced by as mentioned in this paper as an explanation for the impossibility of total fiction that would undermine all assumptions based on our actual world, where readers reconstrue the fictional world as being the closest possible to the reality we know.
Abstract: Abstract As has been argued in various theories of fiction, there can be no such thing as a totally fictional world. This paper seeks to examine the principle of minimal departure, defined by David Lewis and Marie-Laure Ryan, as an explanation for the impossibility of total fiction that would undermine all assumptions based on our actual world. The principle says that readers reconstrue the fictional world as being the closest possible to the reality we know, unless otherwise indicated. By drawing examples from the ontologically fluid worlds in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, I suggest new areas in narrative analysis where the principle could be applied and point out some limitations in earlier definitions of this notion. On the one hand, we can examine those narrative and literary devices that directly play upon the principle of mimimal departure and allow fiction to enlarge the scope of the world that must be explained. On the other hand, I argue that questions of modality in fiction may be relatively immune to this principle. I thus introduce the rule of suspension of modal claims, indicating the need to refrain from making assumptions, in any strong sense, about what may be possible, necessary, or contingent in a fictional world. The principle of suspension of modal claims emphasizes the way fiction may encourage epistemological and ontological doubt rather than mimetic or antimimetic expectations (i.e. principles of minimal and maximal departure), compelling our judgement of the possibility and reality of fiction to hesitate, to linger over a range of possibilities.