School of English

Real, ideal or implied…? The Reader in Stylistics

Tuesday 24th June 2014 (09:00-17:30)

The reader at the heart of stylistics is a somewhat contentious concept. In narratology and semiotics
theoretical readers abound, from the perfect reader, superreader, implied, ideal and model reader to
interpretive communities and ghosts. As stylistics has evolved, the influence of cognitive and corpus
methodologies has prompted discussion of an empiricised reader, while in cognitive poetics a concern
for the ‘real reader’ is viewed as central to the effective analysis of literary texts. These different types
of reader raise serious questions for the theory and practice of stylistics. Do all of these readers exist?
More importantly perhaps, how do we get at them?

This symposium addresses the methods and assumptions of research that deals with theoretical,
empirical and real readers, and the bearing these may have on subsequent analytical practice. It
aims to explore questions such as: What are the relative merits of speculative and empirical
accounts? Is stylistic practice enriched or overcrowded by the co-existence of differently conceived
readers? How successful are emergent analytic methodologies in accessing the interpretations and
experiences of readers?

Papers are invited for this one-day symposium. We are particularly looking for contributions that (1)
explicitly attempt to link assumptions and practices, and (2) illustrate such links through specific
textual analysis. Relevant topics include (but are not limited to):
• Individual and social reading practices (e.g. reading groups, online blog/review data);
• Empirical methodologies vs. introspective approaches;
• Reading as text-controlled process;
• Genre and reading strategies.

Please submit an abstract of around 300 words, five keywords and a short 100-word biography by
Tuesday 1st April. Abstract submissions should be included as a Word attachment and sent to Please remember to include your name, affiliation, academic title
and email address. Postgraduate and early-career researchers with interests in this discipline are
especially encouraged to participate.

Those who would like to attend the symposium without presenting a paper are welcome to do so and
should confirm their attendance by email to by Thursday 1st May. All
participants will be notified by this date and online registration will be available shortly after. There is
no registration fee; however, places are limited.
Davide Castiglione
Yaxiao Cui
Arwa Hasan
Jessica Mason
Lorenzo Mastropierro
Louise Nuttall
Jennifer Sanchez-Davies
Lizzie Stewart
The Stylistics & Discourse Analysis Reading Group

School of English

Trent Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5900
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 5924