Narrative, Emotion, and Insight

Edited by Noël Carroll, John Gibson

Hardback - £53.95

Publication date:

01 July 2011

Length of book:

200 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271048574

While narrative has been one of the liveliest and most productive areas of research in literary theory, discussions of the nature of emotional responses to art and of the cognitive value of art tend to concentrate almost exclusively on the problem of fiction: How can we emote over or learn from fictions? Narrative, Emotion, and Insight explores what would happen if aestheticians framed the matter differently, having narratives—rather than fictional characters and events—as the object of emotional and cognitive attention. The book thus opens up new possibilities for approaching questions about the ethical, educative, and cultural value of art. The nine essays in this volume introduce the study of narrative to contemporary aesthetics.

“This is an excellent collection of essays assembled to address an important and challenging question: How can we be emotionally moved by, or learn from, fictional narratives—stories composed of persons, things, and events that we know don't exist? The writers address this question from a variety of perspectives and consider a wide range of examples from literature, drama, and film. The result is a lively, informed, thought-provoking discussion of the contentious borderland between art and actuality. The editors have made excellent choices, and the contributors have written clear-headed, incisive essays. This is a first-rate collection that everyone interested in literary aesthetics, the psychology of narrative, or the theory of fiction will need to have. But, more than that, it's a book that anyone curious about the bearing of fictional narratives on the way we think and feel about things in real life will want to read.”

—Ronald Moore, University of Washington