Peter Stockwell (Nottingham): Immersion and Emotion


Monday, May 15, 2017, 4:00pm


Cognitive Poetics can account for and illuminate most aspects of literary critical exploration; however the field is most rewarding when it turns its attention to features of literary reading that are widely experienced but difficult to articulate and explain. Readers tend to describe such experiences either vaguely or in unfocused metaphors. Professional critics tend not to have the theoretical grounding to address such phenomena. Readerly effects that might fall into this category could include ambience, tone, empathy, resistance, urgency, pace, suspense, horror, and immersion. These effects are analytically interesting precisely because they are difficult to account for, and this is where cognitive poetics can truly test itself.

The readerly sense of immersion (also called absorption, recentring, aesthetic illusion, transportation, and cognitive flow) is familiar and widespread but difficult to account for in a way that brongs psychology and textuality together satisfactorily. My solution to this problem lies in a consideration of text-world transitions, and the establishment of a relationship across world boundaries that involves ‘mind-casting’. It is along this process that literary emotion can be understood.


About Peter Stockwell

Peter Stockwell is Professor of Literary Linguistics at the University of Nottingham. He has published widely on cognitive poetics and stylistics, including his two books Cognitive Poetics (Routledge, 2002), the first extensive introduction to the still growing field of cognitive poetics, and Texture: A Cognitive Aesthetics of Reading (Edinburgh University Press, 2009). Stockwell also has interests in applied linguistics and sociolinguistics, as well as in particular literatures such as science fiction and surrealism. His recent publications include The Language of Surrealism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and The Handbook of Stylistics (Cambridge University Press, 2014, co-edited with Sara Whiteley). Stockwell is Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Europe) at the University of Nottingham and was elected Fellow of the English Association in 2012.