Ralf Schneider (Bielefeld): The (Temporal) Structure of Emotion Episodes: A Neglected Dimension of Cognitive Reception Theory, or: Beyond Suspense and Surprise


Montag, 03.07.2017, 16.00 Uhr

in H11, C.A.R.L.


Emotions are without doubt among the central effects of literary reception. Narratology, including cognitive narratology, has invested a lot of energy in describing emotions that are elicited by the dynamics of, and tensions between, the presentation of information on the story-world, story structure and narrative mediation. Story- and expectation-related emotions such as suspense and surprise have played a major role in literary scholarship for decades. Recently, the study of empathy in narrative has come to the fore to complement the more cognition-oriented approaches to story structure. In this talk, I will try to connect aspects of response to story structure one the one hand, and reader’s emotional reactions to characters, on the other, by introducing concepts borrowed from scholars such as Patrick Colm Hogan, David Miall, and Barbara Dancygier. Dancygier for instance use the terms ‘narrative spaces’ and ‘narrative anchors’ to describe the way in which readers establish mental connections between episodes across a story. In accordance with this, I will discuss the possibility of speaking of ‘emotion episodes’, ‘emotion spaces’, and ‘emotion anchors’ to capture the temporal dynamics of emotional response that goes beyond suspense and surprise.


About Ralf Schneider

Ralf Schneideris professor of British Literary and Cultural Studies at Bielefeld University. He has contributed to cognitive narratology, with a focus on readers’ response to characters, since the early 2000s. He currently leads research projects on narrative constructions of childhood in contemporary British novels, on migration experience in British literary narrative and on practices of comparison in 18th century British prose fiction. He is co-editor of Characters in Fictional Worlds (2010), Blending and the Study of Narrative (2012), and of two forthcoming handbooks, Handbook of British Literature and Culture of the First World War and Fiktionalität (fictionality), both to be published with de Gruyter.