Introduction to Cognitive Narratology

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Jan Alber, Peter Wenzel (Eds.)

Introduction to Cognitive Narratology

ISBN 978-3-86821-916-6, 264 S., 6 Abb., kt., € 32,50 (2021)

(WVT-Handbücher zum literatur- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Studium, Bd. 24)

Cognitive narratology is an innovative, rapidly developing discipline. Based on cognitive psychology and cognitive linguistics, it tries to describe what happens when readers process (and assign meanings to) narrative texts. It looks at the knowledge structures and emotions that are triggered in this context and asks to what extent they are influenced by real-life experiences and diversifying cultural models.
Outlining the principles of the new approach, the present handbook by teachers and young researchers at the English Department of RWTH Aachen University and the Aachen Center for Cognitive and Empirical Literary Studies (ACCELS) revises and extends earlier structuralist models (which tried to identify structures shared by all narratives, thus remaining too static and general) and opens up new perspectives by employing more process-oriented and individuating methodologies. The benefits of cognitive narratology are elucidated in nine chapters, focussing on its general assumptions, concepts and innovating effects on various relevant fields of narratology (such as the analysis of characters, space, time, plot, narrative situations, unreliability and difficult narratives).
Apart from providing a comprehensive bibliography and toolkits of questions for pursuing the new approach, the volume in each chapter also discusses the question of how its hypotheses can be tested in the context of empirical investigations. Since one needs to understand what actual (flesh-and-blood) readers do when they process narratives, the project of cognitive narratology will be most effective if it is combined with an empirical outlook.

Buchvorschau / Inhaltsverzeichnis (pdf)


"Since their inception in the 1990s, cognitive approaches to literature have always remained somewhat controversial. Yet, despite a widespread reluctance to engage with the intersection of cognition and literature among many literary scholars, this area of research has developed into an established and lively branch of contemporary literary studies, particularly in the field of narratology. By providing one of the first introductory textbooks specifically aimed at beginners and students, Jan Alber and Peter Wenzel's Introduction to Cognitive Narratology makes an important contribution to this branch of academic scholarship. It offers a reader-friendly introduction to and valuable survey of cognitive narratology that provides conceptual and terminological orientation as well as an indispensable toolbox for both scholars and students interested in exploring this complex field of research."

Marcus Hartner, Anglistik – International Journal of English Studies 33.2 (2022)