How to read a mind


Programme fact file

Programme title: How to Read a Mind
Qualification: Certificates available  
Start date: To be announced
Duration: 2 weeks  (3 hours per week)
Maximum places available: Unlimited  
Fees: Free 
Available on weekends/evenings: Yes  

  School of English

Programme overview

Course description

How to Read a Mind is part of a series of ‘how to read’ courses which are being presented by applied linguists, discourse analysts and literary critics at The University of Nottingham. 


This course offers an introduction to what has come to be known as cognitive poetics. Taking our best current knowledge of how our minds and language work, this course takes you through key questions of literature and reading: why do we feel anything for fictional characters? Why do we get angry, moved, irritated, annoyed or sentimental about imaginary people in imagined worlds? Why do the lives of imaginary minds living in fictional bodies seem to matter so much to readers? The answers to these questions are surprising and empowering.

Course leader

Professor Peter Stockwell, Faculty of Arts
Peter works in literary linguistics; cognitive poetics; stylistics; applied linguistics; science fiction; surrealism. He maintains an interest in sociolinguistics and in language education both in the UK and across the world.

show/hide full profile...

Expertise Summary

I don't see myself as a teacher in a direct sense. Instead I view my classes as places where research in literary linguistics - including my own - is presented to students for their own thinking.

Literary linguistics takes our best current knowledge of language and reading and applies it to questions of interpretation, aesthetics, literary value and criticism. My view is that it is the best and the proper way of pursuing literary scholarship. Any student who comes to one of my classes will be faced with a challenge to become a stylistician - and thereby to become a better literary critic, and a better thinker.

I believe that university classes should be intense, engaging and uncomfortable. The journey from new student of stylistics to a position of power over texts and readings is surprisingly short, and the best part of my job is seeing the light of understanding flick on in students' faces when they see what stylistics can do for them.

The measure of my success is not in snapshot surveys, module evaluations nor even the grades my students achieve: success is when one of my students, in 20 years time, takes a decision, or understands a part of their life, or takes a different direction from the one that otherwise they might have taken, as a delicate threaded and immeasurable consequence of something we worked through together years previously - and their life is enhanced by it.


Programme detail

School details

The School of English has a first-rate, international reputation for outstanding teaching and research, as demonstrated by current rankings: 
  • 7th for English in The Times and  Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016
  • 9th for English in The Complete University Guide 2016
  • 9th in the UK for 'research power' (REF 2014).

We offer a unique combination of English disciplines, including literature from the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods to the present day, English language from its origins to contemporary and applied contexts, drama and performance, and creative writing.


This course happens online at

Related programmes

Related CPD courses

No related CPD courses


Other related courses

No related other courses


Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics, The University of Nottingham
t:   +44 (0) 115 951 5900 

Continuing Professional Development Services

Jubilee Conference Centre
Jubilee Campus
Triumph Road
Nottingham, NG8 1DH

telephone: +44 (0) 115 748 4352