Possible Worlds Theory and Readers’ Emotions: The Construction of Textual Actual and Possible Worlds and Readers’ Responses to Literature


This thesis presents a cognitive stylistic exploration of readers’ emotional experiences of literature. The study adopts Possible Worlds Theory for the formulation of a typology of textual actual and possible worlds, which is employed to facilitate stylistic analysis of some of the ways in which novels elicit readers’ emotions. This thesis thus seeks to harness the rich potentiality of Possible Worlds Theory as a tool for the analysis of literature and its effects on readers. Readers’ emotions are studied in the tradition of reader response research in stylistics, with empirical reader data utilised to support the stylistic analysis presented here. Three twentieth-century novels originally written in English form the central focus of this study: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (2006 [1995]), Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (2007 [1961]), and The Trick is to Keep Breathing (1999 [1989]) by Janice Galloway. These three texts were chosen firstly for their capacity to evoke emotions in readers, and secondly due to their varied thematic concerns and narrative style, thus enabling application of the typology developed for this thesis to a diverse selection of novels. This thesis aims to offer two principal interdisciplinary and interdependent contributions. Firstly, I aim to demonstrate the capacity of Possible Worlds Theory to facilitate analysis of how fictional texts may affect readers’ emotions. Secondly, this thesis offers a contribution to the burgeoning study of readers’ emotions by suggesting the potential applications that Possible Worlds Theory offers to the field. Thirdly, alongside facilitating these principal contributions, the typology developed for analysis offers a framework for the exploration of how different forms of textual actual and possible worlds may interact with readers’ emotions. Fourthly, the analysis presented here suggests the utility of empirical reader data in examining the effects elicited by the construction of textual actual and possible worlds.

Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > English Languages and Applied Linguistics
Additional Information: © Megan Florence Mansworth, 2022. Megan Florence Mansworth asserts her moral right to be identified as the author of this thesis. This copy of the thesis has been supplied on condition that anyone who consults it is understood to recognise that its copyright rests with its author and that no quotation from the thesis and no information derived from it may be published without appropriate permission or acknowledgement. If you have discovered material in Aston Publications Explorer which is unlawful e.g. breaches copyright, (either yours or that of a third party) or any other law, including but not limited to those relating to patent, trademark, confidentiality, data protection, obscenity, defamation, libel, then please read our Takedown Policy and contact the service immediately.
Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: Possible Worlds Theory,readers' emotions,cognitive stylistics,reader response
Completed Date: 2022-04
Authors: Mansworth, Megan Florence


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