November 2018 to October 2021

Funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

Cognitive approaches to cultural texts are increasingly gaining currency in contemporary debates in literary and cultural studies; yet they have often been criticized for focusing too narrowly on the interaction between a text and a single, highly abstract reader, and for disregarding both actual readers and the larger historical, political, and cultural context in which a text is produced and consumed. The Narrative Encounters Project aims at bridging some of the perceived gaps between cognitive narratology and more context and politically oriented approaches, thereby continuing and expanding the research work I have been engaged in over the past ten years. The project will use a cognitive approach to explore the narrative strategies employed in a range of ethnic American literary production—specifically by African American, Chicano/a, and Muslim South Asian American writers—with a special emphasis on empathy, affect, and emotion in both the production and the reception of such texts. The central aim of the project is to develop a cognitive approach that helps us to investigate the role of empathy and emotion in the literary mediation of ethnic and cultural difference and to gain a better understanding of what larger cultural repercussions such imaginary engagement may have in the contemporary political climate of the United States.

The Narrative Encounters Project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and based at the Department of English at the University of Klagenfurt in Austria.

Please check back for more information in early fall.