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The Ethics of (Fictional) Form: Persuasiveness and Perspective Taking from the Point of View of Cognitive Literary Studies

Nünning, Vera

In: Arcadia, 50 (2015), Nr. 1. pp. 37-56. ISSN 1613-0642 (Online-Ausg.), 0003-7982 (Druck-Ausg.)

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The persuasive power of narratives, which has been demonstrated in a host of psychological experiments, offers a rewarding field of research for literary studies in general and ethical criticism in particular. If fictional as well as factual narratives can change the beliefs of readers, then they are ethically meaningful to disseminate values, emotional dispositions, and cognitive practices. Building on recent research in psychology and literary studies, this article explores in three steps the ethical value of fictional narratives. First, the persuasive power of narratives is discussed from a cognitive perspective, which includes consideration of the ethical consequences of taking the perspectives of others. Second, these insights are connected to a delineation of narrative conventions, which can foster the kind of deeper understanding associated with altruistic behavior. In the third part, pertinent narrative strategies are discussed from an ethical perspective. A brief conclusion summarizes the most important results and sketches some fields that merit exploration in future studies of ethical criticism.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Arcadia
Volume: 50
Number: 1
Publisher: De Gruyter
Place of Publication: Berlin
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2020 10:34
Date: 2015
ISSN: 1613-0642 (Online-Ausg.), 0003-7982 (Druck-Ausg.)
Page Range: pp. 37-56
Faculties / Institutes: Neuphilologische Fakultät > Anglistisches Seminar
Subjects: 800 Literature and rhetoric
Uncontrolled Keywords: cognitive narratology, narrative conventions, persuasion, ethics, perspective taking
Additional Information: Dieser Beitrag ist aufgrund einer (DFG-geförderten) Allianz bzw. Nationallizenz frei zugänglich. This publication is freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.
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