Experiencing Narrative Worlds

On the Psychological Activities of Reading

Richard J. Gerrig

View Inside Price: $65.00


June 23, 1993
288 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300054347
Cloth

What does it mean to be transported by a narrative—to create a world inside one's head? How do experiences of narrative worlds alter our experience of the real world? In this book Richard Gerrig integrates insights from cognitive psychology and from research in linguistics, philosophy, and literary criticism to provide a cohesive account of what have most often been treated as isolated aspects of narrative experience.

Drawing on examples from Tolstoi to Toni Morrison, Gerrig offers new analyses of some classic problems in the study of narrative. He discusses the ways in which we are cognitively equipped to tackle fictional and nonfictional narratives; how thought and emotion interact when we experience narrative; how narrative information influences judgments in the real world; and the reasons we can feel the same excitement and suspense when we reread a book as when we read it for the first time. Gerrig also explores the ways we enhance the experience of narratives, through finding solutions to textual dilemmas, enjoying irony at the expense of the characters in narrative, and applying a wide range of interpretive techniques to discover meanings concealed by and from authors.

Richard J. Gerrig is associate professor of psychology at Yale University.

"Gerrig investigates how people understand narratives, addressing issues of concern to cognitive psychology and to literary theory. His book will open up new vistas for scholars in both fields."—Gregory L. Murphy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"A psychologist's well-written account of how readers extract meaning from narratives. . . . [Gerrig] illustrates his points with a variety of engaging examples. A significant contribution that integrates contemporary research in cognitive psychology with important ideas from literary criticism."—Choice

"This is a well-written, thoughtful book on an important topic. The breadth of issues covered is impressive and the writing is engaging. Gerrig's use of literary examples and illustrations is compelling. . . . The book represents an important effort at drawing together basic cognitive processing research and the everyday phenomena of reading and listening to narrative that it presumably underlies. It should be of interest and use to students and scholars from the several disciplines concerned with narrative. Such integrative efforts are rare enough, and deserve praise for the effort."—Michael Pratt, Contemporary Psychology

"Richard Gerrig, in Experiencing Narrative Worlds, bridges the gap between psycholinguistic processing and literary appreciation."—Catherine E. Snow, American Journal of Education

"Experiencing Narrative Worlds is an invaluable resource not only for narratologists and narrative theorist, but also for anyone interested in the interface between language and cognition. Combining erudition with readability. . . the book contains a wealth of well-defined yet powerfully suggestive research hypotheses. Following up on those hypotheses-thinking about how stories relate to thinking itself-will no doubt take us well into the next millennium of language-theoretical inquiry."—David Herman, SubStance