Nottingham University Free Online Course About How to Read a Mind

Understand cognitive poetics: what happens in our minds when we read

Taking our best current knowledge of how our minds and language work, we will ask some key questions about reading literature:

  • Why do we feel anything for fictional characters?
  • Why do we get angry, moved, irritated, annoyed or sentimental about imaginary people in imaginary worlds?
  • And why do the lives of fictional characters matter so much to readers?

The answers to these questions are surprising and empowering, and as we explore each, we will introduce you to some key concepts from psychology, linguistics and philosophy.

In advance of the course starting you can join the conversation using #FLread or follow lead educator @PeterJStockwell on Twitter.

What topics will you cover?

  • the application of cognitive science in understanding literary reading
  • Theory of Mind, characterisation and empathy
  • building a fictional world, using text world theory
  • prototypicality, and the richness of fictional people
  • the nature of fictional minds and real minds
  • the experience of engaging with fictional people
  • understanding literary immersion, distraction and transportation
  • the textual patterns that help to achieve effective fictional characters