This article approaches from an empirical perspective the interrelation between foregrounding and complexity in the evaluation of literary texts. For this purpose, a reading experiment is reported. Participants from three cultures (Brazil, Egypt, and the Netherlands) read three texts of different degrees of complexity and evaluated them on a number of variables. Subsequently, they re-read and evaluated the texts once more. The hypothesis was that complex texts would be rated higher on a second than on a first reading; the opposite was predicted for the text with the lowest complexity. Results confirmed this hypothesis for only one group of participants, which raises questions about the nature of a “reading culture.”
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Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics