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Scientific Study of Literature

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ISSN 2210-4372
E-ISSN 2210-4380

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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Using affective appraisal to help readers construct literary interpretations
    • Authors: Sarah Levine, and William S. Horton
    • Source: Scientific Study of Literature, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2013, pages: 105 –136
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    • Students can readily engage in summary and literal sense-making when reading poems, short stories, and other literary texts, but are often unable to construct inferences and thematic interpretations of these works. This paper discusses the results of an instructional intervention built on an affect-based model of literary interpretation. Students in the intervention group spent four weeks reading and writing about popular and canonical texts, with a focus on poetry. As they read, they identified valence-laden language, made appraisals of valence, and then explained or justified their appraisals. Analyses of pre- and post-test results show that the intervention group made significant gains in the level of interpretive responses to poems compared to a control group of students who were not explicitly taught to engage in affective appraisal. This work sheds light on ways in which affect-based interpretive strategies can support novice readers’ interpretive practices.
  • 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.
  • Fiction and its study as gateways to the mind
    • Author: Keith Oatley
    • Source: Scientific Study of Literature, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2011, pages: 153 –164
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    • There has been a growing understanding of how the mind and brain work in readers’ and writers’ engagement with fiction. This is worthwhile because fiction occupies much time in people’s lives and because it enables them to understand others and themselves. At the same time, the future of research in this area will contribute to psychology generally, with insights into the model-making function of mind, relating by means of conversation, empathetic theory-of-mind, imagination, and personal transformation.
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