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This is who i could be

This is who I could be: Storyworld possible selves and fictionality

How to describe and analyse engagement with narrative? This project combines cognitive narratology, cognitive linguistics and social psychology for groundbreaking research on this process. A 'storyworld' is a mental model constructed by the reader, which provides answers to the essential questions for the comprehension of any narrative: who did what to and with whom, when, where, why, and in what manner (D. Herman). 'Possible selves' are the selves we would like to become or want to avoid becoming (Markus and Nurius). 'Storyworld possible selves' are "imagings of the self in storyworlds" (Martinez) that may enhance the reader's involvement and that are activated by a number of linguistic clues. In order to test the viability of this brand new concept, this project brings in recent theories of fictionality, hypothesizing that if a narrative is perceived by the reader as fictional or non-fictional, this will have different consequences for its reception and thus influence the development and relevance of 'storyworld possible selves'. To test the hypothesis, the project will carry out an empirical investigation in which three groups of nine participants will be asked to read _A Million Little Pieces_ (2003) by James Frey, which was marketed as non-fiction but then 'became' fiction after the media exposed its high degree of fabulation. The reader's engagement with the book will be investigated qualitatively, through questionnaires, in-depth interviews and reading diaries.

Funding: FWO

Partners: University of Antwerp, University of Alcalá Madrid

Supervisors: Luc Herman, Anneke Sools, Maria Angeles Martinez

Years: 2020-2024

PhDstudent: Melina Ghassemi Nejad