PJAS 14 Autumn-8

Anna Bendrat

Transitioning the Edges of Multiple Text Worlds: A Cognitive Processing Path from Textuality to Texture in Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 14 (Autumn 2020), pp. 243-268

Abstract: The paper is located in the field of cognitive poetics and its general aim is to explore cognitive processes underlying the idiosyncrasy of a reader’s narrative engagement on the level of texture. By introducing the notion of texture, Peter Stockwell (2009) added the third level of a reading experience, situated above a text (level 1) and textuality (level 2). While textuality present in text‘s stylistic patterns is the “outcome of the workings of shared cognitive mechanics, evident in texts and readings,” texture is defined as the “experienced quality of textuality” (Stockwell, Texture – A Cognitive Aesthetics of Reading 1). In other words, texture must involve a reader’s aestheticpositioning, but it also “requires aesthetics to be socially situated” (Stockwell 191; emphasis added). The paper focuses on Hanya Yanagihara’s novel A Little Life (2015) which has been selected due to its added complexity stemming from the fact that the chapters have alternating narrators. In the book a computational analysis is applied to the narratives of the three focalizers to trace and compare the positive and negative emotional valence of the texts with the use of R-environment software. It is argued that where intradiegetic perspectivizing entities (focalizers/narrators) are multiple, indicating and creating a mental representation of the main protagonist involves a particularly complex process. The protagonist’s ontological existence inside the narrative situation blends with the reader’s mental capacity for synthesis along the edges of the multiple narrative perspectivization.

Key words: 

cognitive poetics, texture, Current Discourse Space, edgework, multiperspectivity, affect, R environment, text mining, sentiment analysis


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