This article contributes to studies of the heuristic, metacognitive, and social values of literary works by interrogating ways literary description can induce experiential involvement in the reading process through mobilizing what the neuropsychologists Maria Vandekerckhove and Jaak Panksepp call our “affective consciousness,” a form of prereflective reception that arises from bodily experience. Focusing upon Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, the article proposes a theoretical framework for interrogating the forms of priming, bias, and insight gained via these physical dimensions of reading. In particular, it examines a narrative technique termed “embodied anchors,” by which Roy conveys her characters' experiences and their interpretations of those experiences through image clusters that function both as metaphors and as physical cues, simultaneously affecting both “basic” and “moral” emotions (as differentiated by the clinical psychologists Bunmi O. Olatunji and Jorge Moll). The article analyzes how these embodied prompts activate readers' preconscious modes of perception, modify cognitive skills, and intensify the effects of reading by anchoring ideational content in readers' bodies, rendering abstract concepts physically tangible, thus providing alternative and parallel means of communicating and manipulating knowledge. This knowledge, it is argued, can be integrated into readers' range of experiences in ways that parallel “real-life” encounters, potentially facilitating profound learning.
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Research Article| June 01 2017
Goosebumps, Shivers, Visualization, and Embodied Resonance in the Reading Experience: The God of Small Things
Poetics Today (2017) 38 (2): 273–293.
Naomi Rokotnitz; Goosebumps, Shivers, Visualization, and Embodied Resonance in the Reading Experience: The God of Small Things. Poetics Today 1 June 2017; 38 (2): 273–293. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-3868603
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