Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2021

Openness, Reflective Engagement, and Self-Altering Literary Reading

From the book Handbook of Empirical Literary Studies

  • Don Kuiken and Paul Sopčák


Studies that assess modes of reading engagement indicate that open reflection within a distinctively expressive mode of reading engagement triggers not only embodied, enactive, and affective animation of the narrated world (Caracciolo, 2014) but also shifts in text- and self-understanding (Kuiken & Douglas, 2018; Menninghaus et al., 2019). There is gradually increasing clarity about the processes by which these modes of reading engagement - and their aesthetic effects (e. g., appreciation, being moved, sublime feeling) - are related to shifts in understanding. Contrasting formulations propose that (a) readers expand their sense of possible selves through engagement with fictional characters’ experiences (Slater et al., 2014); (b) readers’ response to formal and narrative features of the text motivates exploration of alternative self-concepts (Djikic & Oatley, 2014); and (c) readers’ receptive engagement with formal and narrative aspects of the text affords expressive enactment of metaphoric structures that reveal or disclose a self-relevant narrative world (Kuiken & Douglas, 2018). Related studies (e. g., Tangerås, 2018) suggest that self-altering literary reading is especially likely to occur during life crises. In continuing evaluation of these models, researchers rely on experimental studies of variations in reader traits, experimental studies of moment by moment reading activities, and experimental and interview studies of readers during life crises.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
Downloaded on 1.4.2023 from
Scroll to top button