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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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Exploring absorbing reading experiences: Developing and validating a self-report scale to measure story world absorption
  • Corpus linguistics and the study of literature: Back to the future?
    • Author: Douglas Biber
    • Source: Scientific Study of Literature, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2011, pages: 15 –23
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    • The present paper introduces corpus-based analytical techniques and surveys some of the specific ways in which corpus analysis has been applied to the study of literature. In recent years, those research efforts have been mostly carried out under the umbrella of ‘corpus stylistics’. Most of these studies focus on the distribution of words (analyzing keywords, extended lexical phrases, or collocations) to identify textual features that are especially characteristic of an author or particular text. Corpus-based grammatical and pragmatic analyses of literary language are also briefly considered. Then, in the concluding part of the paper, I briefly survey earlier computational and statistical research on authorship attribution and literary style. While that research tradition is in some ways the precursor to more recent work in corpus stylistics, it is also complementary to recent research in its application of sophisticated statistical and computational methods.
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