The Experientiality of Narrative: An Enactivist Approach

The Experientiality of Narrative: An Enactivist Approach

by Marco Caracciolo


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Recent developments in cognitive narrative theory have called attention to readers' active participation in making sense of narrative. However, while most psychologically inspired models address interpreters' subpersonal (i.e., unconscious) responses, the experiential level of their engagement with narrative remains relatively undertheorized. Building on theories of experience and embodiment within today's "second-generation" cognitive science, and opening a dialogue with so-called "enactivist" philosophy, this book sets out to explore how narrative experiences arise from the interaction between textual cues and readers' past experiences. Caracciolo's study offers a phenomenologically inspired account of narrative, spanning a wide gamut of responses such as the embodied dynamic of imagining a fictional world, empathetic perspective-taking in relating to characters, and "higher-order" evaluations and interpretations. Only by placing a premium on how such modes of engagement are intertwined in experience, Caracciolo argues, can we do justice to narrative's psychological and existential impact on our lives. These insights are illustrated through close readings of literary texts ranging from Émile Zola's Germinal to José Saramago's Blindness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783110552997
Publisher: De Gruyter
Publication date: 06/26/2017
Series: Narratologia Series , #43
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 9.06(w) x 6.10(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Marco Caracciolo, University of Groningen,Netherlands.

Table of Contents

0 Introduction 1

0.1 Out of Which Hat 1

0.2 Why Experience, and Why This Book 8

0.3 Why This Book Is Not an Empirical Study 11

0.4 Cognitive Science: A Thumbnail Sketch 16

0.4.1 From Computational Models to Enactivism 16

0.4.2 Conceptual Thought and Embodiment 19

0.4.3 The Self, Folk Psychology, and Phenomenology 21

0.5 Outline of Chapters 23

Part I Notes for a Theory of Experientiality

1 Not So Easy: Representation, Experience, Expression 29

1.1 From Representation to Expression 33

1.2 On Characters' Experiences 38

1.3 Expressive Devices 41

2 The Existential Burn: Storytelling and the Background 45

2.1 The Network of Experientiality 52

2.2 Focus on the Experiential Background 55

2.2.1 Opening Moves 55

2.2.2 Mapping the Background 56

2.2.3 Narrative and the Background 64

3 Experience, Interaction, and Play in Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch 72

3.1 Dewey and Winnicott on Experience 75

3.2 A Third Possibility 80

3.3 Other Paths: Beyond Vertical Transcendence 82

3.4 Bringing the Strands Together 87

Part II From Experiential Traces to Fictional Consciousnesses

4 Blind Reading: Bodily and Perceptual Responses to Narrative 93

4.1 The Enactivist Theory of Experience 97

4.2 Enacting Narrative Space 100

4.3 Enacting Characters' Bodily-Perceptual Experiences 103

4.4 Enacting Qualia Through Metaphorical Language 105

5 Fictional Consciousnesses: From Attribution to Enactment 110

5.1 Consciousness-Attribution 115

5.2 Enacting Benjy: A Slow-Motion Analysis 118

5.3 Consciousness-Enactment 122

5.3.1 What Is Consciousness-Enactment? 122

5.3.2 Triggers of Consciousness-Enactment 125

5.3.3 Mental Simulation as the Cognitive Basis for Consciousness-Enactment 129

6 Fictional Consciousnesses: Self-Narratives and Intersubjectivity 133

6.1 Narrative Selves? 135

6.2 Focus on Self-Narratives 139

6.3 Engaging with Characters: Between Primary and Secondary Intersubjectivity 142

6.4 Readers and Characters in Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach: A Case Study 144

Part III Embodied Engagements and Their Effects

7 Embodiment, Virtuality, and Meaning in Readers' Reconstruction of Narrative Space 155

7.1 From Mental Simulation to Fictionalization 159

7.2 Fictional Anchors: Forster's Deputy Focalizor and "Strict" Focalization 162

7.3 Virtual Presences: "Empty Center" and Aperspectival Texts 168

7.4 A Scale of Fictionalization 173

7.5 The Embodied Self and Beckett's Company 174

8 Mental Myopia: Narrative Patterns and Experiential Texture in Vladimir Nabokov's The Defense 181

8.1 From Chess Consciousness to Experiential Blindness 184

8.2 The Moves of His Life 188

8.3 Beyond? 194

8.4 Three Functions of Narrative: Overreading The Defense 200

9 Conclusion: Where to Go from Here? 206

Works Cited 209

Index 227

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