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Scientific Study of Literature

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ISSN 2210-4372
E-ISSN 2210-4380

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  • Reading other minds: Effects of literature on empathy
    • Authors: Maja Djikic, Keith Oatley, and Mihnea C. Moldoveanu
    • Source: Scientific Study of Literature, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2013, pages: 28 –47
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    • The potential of literature to increase empathy was investigated in an experiment. Participants (N = 100, 69 women) completed a package of questionnaires that measured lifelong exposure to fiction and nonfiction, personality traits, and affective and cognitive empathy. They read either an essay or a short story that were equivalent in length and complexity, were tested again for cognitive and affective empathy, and were finally given a non-self-report measure of empathy. Participants who read a short story who were also low in Openness experienced significant increases in self-reported cognitive empathy (p .05). No increases in affective empathy were found. Participants who were frequent fiction-readers had higher scores on the non-self-report measure of empathy. Our results suggest a role for fictional literature in facilitating development of empathy.
  • Exploring absorbing reading experiences: Developing and validating a self-report scale to measure story world absorption
  • Lost in an iPad: Narrative engagement on paper and tablet
    • Authors: Anne Mangen, and Don Kuiken
    • Source: Scientific Study of Literature, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2014, pages: 150 –177
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    • The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of reading medium and a paratext manipulation on aspects of narrative engagement. In a 2 (medium: booklet vs. iPad) by 2 (paratext: fiction vs. nonfiction) between-subjects factorial design, the study combined state oriented measures of narrative engagement and a newly developed measure of interface interference. Results indicated that, independently of prior experience with reading on electronic media, readers in the iPad condition reported dislocation within the text and awkwardness in handling their medium. Also, iPad readers who believed they were reading nonfiction were less likely to report narrative coherence and transportation, while booklet readers who believed they were reading nonfiction were, if anything, more likely to report narrative coherence. Finally, booklet (but not iPad) readers were more likely to report a close association between transportation and empathy. Implications of these findings for cognitive and emotional engagement with textual narratives on paper and tablet are discussed.
  • The scientific study of literary experience
    • Author: Arthur M. Jacobs
    • Source: Scientific Study of Literature, Volume 5, Issue 2, 2015, pages: 139 –170
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    • In this state-of-the-art review, I start with an illustrative example of behavioral data collected during the reading of a love poem reflecting one of many aspects that form the object of the Scientific Study of Literature, i.e., literary experience. A further section discusses key ingredients of literary experience, i.e., immersive and aesthetic processes. The paper’s core part analyses four recent representative empirical studies covering perspectives ranging from phenomenology to cognitive neuroscience. In the final sections, a number of critical theoretical and methodological issues are considered. Systematic research on the ontogeny of literary experiences is identified as a main desideratum of the field and further recommendations for the future scientific study of literature are proposed.

  • Education and the study of literature
    • Author: Carol D. Lee
    • Source: Scientific Study of Literature, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2011, pages: 49 –58
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    • This reflective essay argues that a major constraint on the effective teaching of literature in elementary and high schools is the challenge of articulating and empirically validating a model of literary reasoning that encompasses the following: (1) the multiple dimensions of the literary experience and how they interact (cognitive, emotional, dispositional, personal introspective, aesthetic, experiential); (2) developmental issues and trajectories impacting the growth of expertise in literary response; (3) the multiple sources of knowledge on which readers draw in responding to literature (knowledge of text structures, of rhetorical conventions, of literary traditions, of real world correlates to character types and motivations, settings, and events, and of moral and philosophical domains, including cultural variation among these). Articulating and validating such a model will require interdisciplinary collaborations across fields ranging from cognition, human development, linguistics, philosophy, and literary theory.
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