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Cognitive Literary ScienceDialogues between Literature and Cognition$
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Michael Burke and Emily T. Troscianko

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190496869

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190496869.001.0001

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Towards a ‘Natural’ Bond of Cognitive and Affective Narratology

Towards a ‘Natural’ Bond of Cognitive and Affective Narratology

(p.35) Chapter 2 Towards a ‘Natural’ Bond of Cognitive and Affective Narratology
Cognitive Literary Science

Caroline Pirlet

Andreas Wirag

Oxford University Press

The chapter explores the neglected affective dimension in reader-response frameworks in cognitive poetics and narratology to advance a more holistic model of how readers make sense of stories. Future narratological frameworks need to accommodate emotion-derived reader responses in story comprehension as a complement to traditional, more narrowly intellect-based reader cognitions. The argument is divided into three sections. First, reiterating Stockwell’s conviction that affect is integral to understanding fictional narrative, a theory of ‘literary emotions’ is proposed in order to account for affective reader responses to fiction. A distinction is highlighted between discrete ‘emotionologies’ (i.e. culture-specific forms of emotional sense-making that produce idiosyncratic reader responses) and an evolutionary repertoire of basic emotions that warrants intercultural intelligibility of fiction. Following this exposition, a close reading of James Joyce’s short story ‘Eveline’ (1914) illustrates the interplay of affective and cognitive-rational components in decision-making processes that surface in fictional characters and reading audiences alike. The hapless heroine epitomizes the topical struggle between pragmatic and emotional contemplations as she unsuccessfully strives to break free from stifling personal circumstances. Readers, by the same token, will find themselves hesitant to condemn the heroine’s indecision as their empathic responses towards Eveline influence their evaluation of the fictional other. As a contribution to narratological theory formation, finally, an appendix attempts to jointly theorize affective and cognitive-intellectual reader responses within the unified framework of a ‘natural’ narratology. Monika Fludernik’s model, due to its emphasis on readers’ cognitive-constructivist construals of narrative, provides a theoretical model well suited to accommodating affective reader responses to literature.

Keywords:   cognitive, narratology, cognitive approaches to literature, literary theory, narrative across cultures, affective narratology, natural narratology, narrativization, close reading, James Joyce, affective reader response

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