PhD (full-time) - currently registered
The Cognitive Poetics of Horror Fiction
My PhD project explores the experience of reading horror fiction from a cognitive-poetic perspective. This genre is defined by the very emotion it evokes-horror. This equivalence between the genre's definition and the experience of reading it makes horror fiction unique from others. It is the requirement of the genre to provoke such emotion that interests me. The starting point of my research is a question posed by Stephen King in his treatise on the horror genre, Danse Macabre: 'why are people willing to pay good money to be made extremely uncomfortable?' (1981: 10). How does horror writing create these emotions-fear, anxiety, tension, revulsion, to name a few-in the reader? What is it about horror that makes it compelling enough for people to put themselves into this emotionally vulnerable position?
My research aims to answer these questions using Cognitive Poetics, a field which makes use of the theories and findings of cognitive science to develop understanding of the experience of literary reading. Text World Theory, the most innovative approach within this field, provides a means for examining both the text and its reader's contextual knowledge together, giving a comprehensive view of the literary work and its psychological effects (Werth 1999, Gavins 2007). Therefore, I am using Text World Theory to holistically investigate horror fiction and its effects on readers.
Cognitive Poetics, Text World Theory, Horror Fiction, Cognitive Linguistics
Primary Funding Source/s
- Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship for Research Excellence (International)
Research Institutes, Centres and/or Research Clusters Memberships