Capturing the attention of readers? Stylistic and psychological perspectives on the use and effect of text fragmentation in narratives

Emmott, C. , Sanford, A.J. and Morrow, L.I. (2006) Capturing the attention of readers? Stylistic and psychological perspectives on the use and effect of text fragmentation in narratives. Journal of Literary Semantics, 35(1), pp. 1-30. (doi:10.1515/JLS.2006.001)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/JLS.2006.001

Abstract

This article brings together researchers from Stylistics and Psychology to study whether text fragmentation, which appears often to be used by writers as a foregrounding device (Mukařovský 1964), is able to capture the attention of readers of narratives. We examine two types of text fragmentation: sentence fragments and mini-paragraphs. Firstly, we study the stylistic functions of fragmentation, including its cumulative use at plot crucial moments and its use for local rhetorical purposes. We then turn to psychological research on depth of processing (e.g. Sanford and Sturt 2002) and introduce a new method of testing, the text change detection method (Sturt at al. 2004). We report an experiment using this method to examine whether text fragments and very short sentences can increase the amount of detail that readers notice in a text, and then discuss the results in relation to potential applications. The work provides both a case study of the empirical analysis of foregrounding devices, and also, more generally, a case study of inter-disciplinary research across the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Morrow, Dr Lorna and Sanford, Professor Anthony and Emmott, Dr Catherine
Authors: Emmott, C., Sanford, A.J., and Morrow, L.I.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Journal Name:Journal of Literary Semantics
ISSN:0341-7638

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
362761Stylistics, text analysis and cognitive science - interdisciplinary perspectives on the nature of readingCatherine EmmottThe Arts & Humanities Research BoardAHRB-POSTCRIT - ENGLISH LANGUAGE