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Narrative in Question Guest Lecture

Wednesday 22 February 2017, 4.00PM to 5.30pm

Speaker(s): Alice Bell (Sheffield Hallam)

Immersion in a Playable Story: A Cognitive , Empirical Approach  

This paper reports on my research on immersion in playable stories, and Dreaming Methods’ (2015) WALLPAPER in particular, which has been conducted as part of the AHRC-funded “Reading Digital Fiction” project. I profile a new cognitive approach to immersion by developing deictic shift theory (Stockwell 2002) for its application to interactive, multimodal, digital narratives. I then report on an empirical study in which we investigated the way that reader-players responded to WALLPAPER as an immersive narrative experience by analysing the way that readers explicitly and implicitly express their experiences of immersion linguistically. Combining the cognitive and empirical approaches, I amend current theory (e.g. Ryan 2016, Thon 2008) to show that immersion in digital media is a gradable, interactive, and dynamic experience. My paper thus contributes to narratology by offering a new cognitive and, crucially, empirically grounded theory of immersion.

Bio: Dr Alice Bell is Reader is English language and literature at Sheffield Hallam University. Her research specialisms are digital fiction and cognitive stylistics/narratology (including empirical approaches). She is Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded “Reading Digital Fiction” project which develops cognitive approaches for digital fiction via empirical research and focusses on: immersion and psychological projection; second-person narrative; and the role of hyperlinks in digital literary reading. Her publications include The Possible Worlds of Hypertext Fiction (2010) and Analyzing Digital Fiction (2014, co-edited with Astrid Ensslin and Hans K. Rustad). She is currently writing Unnatural Narratives and Digital Fiction (with Astrid Ensslin) and editing (with Marie-Laure Ryan) Possible Worlds Theory and Contemporary Narratology (Univ. of Nebraska Press).

Narrative in Question is an ICNS research programme for Spring and Summer terms 2017, bringing together visiting speakers and York researchers with narrative-related interests. The core events are a series of seminars and guest lectures, and a culminating workshop featuring international contributors and a workshop focussed upon developing an interdisciplinary research project.

The idea for the programme is that the question of narrative provides a conceptual hub for dialogue amongst participants with widely divergent individual research agendas. The seminars will feature individual research projects in which the issue of narrative is fundamentally at stake. All project participants share a concern to put narrative in question, whether as a theoretical concept, as a mode of discourse or cognition, as a particular corpus or tradition, as a set of formal devices and techniques, as a use of specific media, or as a research methodology.

See the full programme of events

Location: Seminar Room BS/008, Humanities Research Centre, Berrick Saul Building, University of York Campus West