possible paths to possible worlds

Last October, when I started this blog, I had a narrow remit in mind: somewhere I’d write up thoughts on research into narrative theories via their application to a couple of classical texts which were of especial interest to me. My approach was reader-orientated and narratological. It still is. But with every step down that clean and narrow path, other paths appeared left and right, winding away, enticing shiny new routes and destinations. There’s all manner of readers (real, implied, ideal and so on), so many ways of reading and reading readings, and they deserve more than a link and a nod.

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I’ve already reblogged in this new category a post from Aunty Muriel’s blog on points of view. There’s plenty more good things over there for anyone intrigued by Stylistics and Cognitive Poetics. And on texts that don’t require translating from Latin and Ancient Greek. So go have a look!

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Now, what IS Text World Theory? Well, one could state simply that it’s a cognitive-linguistic model of human discourse processing’. Or one could go over to the new Text World Theory site from where I extracted that definition and find out much more. It did/does muddle my own thinking a bit (storyworlds or textworlds?) but my thinking is frequently muddled in any case. On the site, you can access not only Paul Werth’s Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse (for research purposes), but also Professor Jo Gavins has very generously made available Text World Theory: An Introduction. Those two monographs should answer that opening question more thoroughly. There is also now a section for teachers and teaching Text World Theory in the classroom: resources, workshops, lesson plans. Click, click!

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And following from that, Jessica Mason and Marcello Giovanelli’s Studying Fiction blog. I love the tagline ‘the literature classroom through a cognitive lens’ and the content. There’s an excellent three-part series on ‘mind-modelling’ and the classroom which I wish had read (or it had existed) before taking literature seminars myself, rather than reading and sometimes smiling, sometimes wincing. Better late than never though!

ART CogLit! Quoting from the project site, this research group conducts ‘empirical investigations of the observed reactions of real readers in order to test and extend hypotheses on ideal reading processes and reader responses developed in literary theory.’ And if that isn’t attention-grabbing enough, there’s also the Aachen Colloquium on Literature, Emotion and Cognition. At this colloquium, I discovered the Possible Selves we interact with during Narrative Immersion (Jan Alber), had my first dunking in Cognitive Poetics (Peter Stockwell), was fascinated (and a bit jealous) of Marco Cariaccolo’s research on post-apocalyptic fiction and likewise by Merja Polvinen’s case study of Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Those were just a few and I didn’t have to fly to Aachen every week. The majority of lectures were streamed, recorded (very useful for viewers who need a good few watches), and are still available if you get in touch with the good people over at ART CogLit (and they are good people).

ART CogLit - the Aachen Research Team

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