Chapter 12. Empirical stylistics as a learning and research tool in the study of narrative viewpoint

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This chapter reports a study on students’ responses to a passage by Virginia Woolf which displays frequent shifts in viewpoint and a variety of speech and thought presentation modes. The students were asked to attribute the viewpoint in the passage and to demarcate the boundaries of individual viewpoints. The aims of the study are: to (1) assess the agreement among readers on how to assign viewpoint; (2) test the differences in interpretation between more experienced and less experienced readers; (3) expose students to the empirical investigation of literature in an experimental setting; and (4) reflect on the usefulness of incorporating empirical studies in the learning process. The findings demonstrate the level of readerly agreement on the attribution of viewpoint and the boundaries of individual viewpoints in an experimental text. The use of empirical methods as a learning tool in the stylistics classroom is assessed.


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