Marco Caracciolo's research while affiliated with Ghent University and other places

Publications (68)

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Game scholars have discussed both the ways in which video games structurally differ from literary fiction and the ways in which they remediate motifs and narrative strategies from it. In this article, I reverse the direction of that exchange, arguing that video games are disclosing new perspectives on both literary writing and literary interpretati...
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Marco Caracciolo is Associate Professor of English and Literary Theory at Ghent University in Belgium, where he led the ERC Starting Grant project “Narrating the Mesh.” (2017–2022). His work explores the phenomenology of narrative, or the structure of the experiences afforded by literary fiction and other narrative media. He is the author of severa...
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Recent work in environmental philosophy has uncoupled the notion of agency from the human domain, arguing that the efficacy of nonhuman entities and processes can also be construed as a form of “agency.” In this paper, we study discursive constructions of nonhuman agency as they appear in a set of interviews revolving around fictional narratives. T...
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Scholars in ecocriticism have frequently argued that the environmental crisis calls for an overhaul of the realist novel, which is inadequate at conveying the global scale and ramifications of climate change and related anthropogenic disruptions to the Earth system. In this article, I explore how a centerpiece of nineteenth-century realist fiction,...
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This article focuses on the evocation of children’s experiences in fiction that engages with postapocalyptic scenarios. It examines three contemporary novels from profoundly different geographic contexts—Yoko Tawada’s The Emissary, Niccolò Ammaniti’s Anna, and Diane Cook’s The New Wilderness—that evoke a child’s experience of societal collapse in t...
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Originating in the works of early twentieth-century authors such as H. P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood, weird fiction is experiencing a renaissance in contemporary literature. Several scholars have presented this literary mode as uniquely suited to speak to the anxieties generated by the current ecological crisis. In this essay, we examine Jeff...
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According to recent accounts, we experience the emotion of “being moved” when a situation brings into play our core values. What are the core values evoked by nonhuman landscapes, however, particularly as the distinction between man-made and natural environments becomes increasingly blurry in the so-called Anthropocene? That is the central question...
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In the second volume of Time and Narrative (1985, 101–12), Paul Ricoeur distinguishes between two layers of temporality in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (1925): he calls them “monumental” time and “mortal” time. The former is connected with authority and British imperial politics; the latter is the subjective, highly malleable time of human experi...
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This article argues that the museum is a significant trope in contemporary literature that engages with the climate crisis. With its destabilisation of relations between human communities and the nonhuman world, the Anthropocene – Paul Crutzen’s influential (if controversial) name for the current geological period – troubles conceptual binaries and...
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How can providing less textual information about a fictional character make his or her mind more transparent and accessible to the reader? This is the question that emerges from an empirical study of reader response conducted by Kotovych et al. Taking my cue from this study, I discuss the role of implied information in readers’ interactions with ch...
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Climate change may be a scientific certainty, but the magnitude of its impact on the future of humanity – and of the Earth’s ecosystems – cannot be predicted with absolute precision, given the sheer number of factors involved. In this article, I explore two fictional works – Jeff VanderMeer’s novella The Strange Bird and Alexis Wright’s novel The S...
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The remarkable coordination displayed by animal groups—such as an ant colony or a flock of birds in flight—is not just a behavioral feat; it reflects a fullfledged form of collective cognition. Building on work in philosophy, cognitive approaches to literature, and animal studies, I explore how contemporary fiction captures animal collectivity. I f...
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This article explores metaphorical language in the strand of contemporary fiction that Trexler discusses under the heading of ‘Anthropocene fiction’ – namely, novels that probe the convergence of human experience and geological or climatological processes in times of climate change. Why focus on metaphor? Because, as cognitive linguists working in...
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Ideas enter our mind, a realisation can dawn on us, and we should let bad news sink in. This article argues that experimental narrative can destabilise this widespread tendency to describe mental processes through spatial metaphors. My case studies are J. G. Ballard's short story ‘The Terminal Beach’ (1964) and Dear Esther (2012), an arthouse video...
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Scientists and scholars in multiple fields have been discussing the current geological epoch under the heading of the “Anthropocene” – an era marked by the planetary impact of human activities (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000). The epistemological shift brought about by this notion exposes the latent anthropocentrism of narrative practices, raising a cha...
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Among literary-theoretical concepts, mimesis has one of the longest histories, dating back to Plato and Aristotle. In the twentieth century, discussion of mimesis resulted in a number of highly influential contributions, including Eric Auerbach's Mimesis and Paul Ricoeur's Time and Narrative. In this article, we use Ricoeur's tripartite model of mi...
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This special issue presents a "crossover" between two strands of contemporary narrative theory: a second-generation cognitive approach that foregrounds the linkage of stories, mind, and the human body; and an unnatural approach, which focuses on narratives that depart from and challenge everyday cognitive parameters, including those involved in so-...
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This article engages with the challenges of narrating catastrophe in so-called postapocalyptic fiction, and more specifically in three contemporary novels that bring formal and stylistic sophistication to the genre: Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006), Colson Whitehead's Zone One (2011), and Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven (2014). I claim that...
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In this article you find the third part of a roundtable on Wolfgang’s Iser legacy with Gerald Prince, Mark Freeman, Marco Caracciolo and Federico Bertoni. In Part III we discuss with Marco Caracciolo the common grounds of Iser and cognitive literary approaches and the role of interpration in cognitive literary studies.
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Does consciousness—the subjective texture of our interactions with the world—exist on a separate plane from physical matter (dualism)? Or, on the contrary, does it arise from matter (physicalism)? This article focuses on two contemporary novels that attempt to come to grips with this so-called hard problem of consciousness: Michel Houellebecq’s Les...
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Scholars working in different areas of literary studies have recently developed an interest in how literature deals with the 'deep', evolutionary history of humankind. Cross-fertilizing this line of enquiry with accounts of consciousness representation in cognitive narrative theory, my essay explores literary figurations of prehistoric mentalities...
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What is the role of interpretation—the close reading of individual texts—in cognitive literary studies? In attempting to come to grips with this vexed question, my article focuses on the complex divides that separate the practice of interpretation from cognitive-scientific research. I argue that cognitive literary studies can only fulfill their pot...
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You wake up in a deserted house, wondering how you ended up there, and soon stumble on a dead body lying on the floor. As you explore the house, you discover a gun, newspaper clippings, a list of names—all clues pointing to a serial killer’s scheme to murder several women in the neighboring town. You find out that your wife’s name, Rachel, is on th...
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One of the recurrent motifs in the tradition of the “katabasis,” or journey to the underworld, in Western literature, is that of the visitor trying to embrace the incorporeal soul of a dead relative or friend. We find this motif in Homer’s Odyssey, later in the Aeneid, and finally in the Commedia, where Dante attempts to embrace the shade of his Fl...
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Our article reviews empirical work that claims to provide evidence for the psychological benefits and effects of engaging with literature. Psychological research has considerable potential for addressing the limitations of traditional reader-response theories, especially if such research is conducted in an interdisciplinary context where literary s...
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My essay joins the contemporary cognitive-narratological debate on whether readers bring to bear on fictional characters the folk psychology that they apply to real people. While arguing for a continuity in readers’ engagement with real and fictional minds, I point out that some literary techniques harness our imaginative, empathic skills to a grea...
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Empathetic perspective-taking is one of the main psychological mechanisms behind audiences’ engagement with narrative (Coplan 2004; Eder 2006). What happens, however, when a story confronts with a character whose emotions, motivations, and beliefs we fail to understand? This paper examines the phenomenon of “unreadable minds” (Abbott 2008) from a t...
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Drawing on a corpus of online reviews, my article carries out a qualitative study of readers' responses to the child narrators of two contemporary novels, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003) and Emma Donoghue's Room (2010). What these narrators have in common is that they are both are affected by developmental dis...
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By way of imaginative engagements with animal life, literature seems ideally positioned to address the gap between scientific knowledge and “what it is like” (in Thomas Nagel’s phrase) to be an animal. Yet my article argues that the differences between literary representations of animal experience and scientific methods for studying nonhuman consci...
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This article explores the role of punctuation and typography in readers' engagement with literary narrative, and with fictional characters in particular. I argue that unconventional typography and punctuation marks can be used to convey the phenomenological ``feel'' of characters' (and narrators') experiences, thereby becoming a vehicle for conscio...
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In his article "Embodied Cognition and the Grotesque in Calvino's La giornata d'uno scrutatore and Sanguineti's Capriccio italiano" Marco Caracciolo analyzes the multiple dimensions of embodied experience and how they can be brought to bear on literary texts. Drawing on scholarship in cognitive science, he argues that the embodiment of people's eng...
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This essay examines the phenomenon of non-human storytelling. We take our departure from the paradoxical idea that readers are invited to reflect upon aspects of human life when reading the fictional life stories of non-human narrators, whether they are animals, objects, or indefinable entities. By giving voice to non-human things and animals such...
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Leon Festinger’s account of cognitive dissonance, published in 1957, has become one of the most successful theories in the history of social psychology. I argue that Festinger’s framework—and the research it generated over the last sixty years—can shed light on key aspects of readers’ engagement with literary characters. Literature can invite the a...
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Internally focalized passages in narrative often employ metaphors to capture the experiential states of the focalizing character. My investigation of these metaphors – ‘phenomenological metaphors’, as I call them – has two important precedents in the fields of narratology and literary stylistics: Dorrit Cohn’s (1978) treatment of ‘psycho-analogies’...
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The last chapter of J.M. Coetzee's Foe is well known for its impenetrability. Drawing upon cognitive linguistics and cognitive psychology, this essay argues that the chapter can be interpreted as a metafictional allegory of the reader's making sense of the novel. The embodiment of the character-narrator (a fictional counterpart for the reader) is c...
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After establishing its roots in basic forms of sensorimotor coupling between an organism and its environment, the new wave in cognitive science known as “enactivism” has turned to higher-level cognition, in an attempt to prove that even socioculturally mediated meaning-making processes can be accounted for in enactivist terms. My article tries to b...
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Reading a narrative text is or provides an experience. In this article, I attempt to reconcile this common claim about reading with the intentionalist model of narrative David Herman has presented in his “Narrative Theory and the Intentional Stance” (2008). I do so by developing two lines of argument. First, taking my cue from Daniel D. Hutto’s phi...
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This article offers an allegorical reading of the conclusion of Don DeLillo's sprawling novel, Underworld. In my view, this passage blends together Internet browsing and the reader's making sense of the novel itself. I use Fauconnier and Turner's blending theory to tease out the complex conceptual operations that readers are asked to perform while...
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This essay explores the relationship between the reader’s engagement with literature, and in particular with narrative texts, and the player’s interaction with videogames. It builds on the concept of “interface,” arguing that in videogames the interface is the layer (both physical and conceptual) that enables players to intervene meaningfully in th...

Citations

... Tutkimukseni ulkopuolelle jäävät kysymykset siitä, millaisia konkreettisia seurauksia varsinaiselle toiminnalle tällaisten kertomusten lukemisella on. Tämä teksti nojaa muualla julkaistuun artikkeliin samasta haastatteluaineistosta (Toivonen & Caracciolo 2022) 2 , mutta syvennän ja tarkennan aiempaa analyysia uusin esimerkein ja uusista näkökulmista. ...
... I discuss this notion further in Caracciolo (2016c), in which I explore how dissonance may arise in readers' interactions with mentally deviant characters. 32 For a fuller reading of Dead Astronauts, which partly overlaps with my discussion here, see also Caracciolo and Ulstein (2022). 33 We will encounter these "scheming" foxes again in Chapter 3, which focuses on another VanderMeer story set in the Borne universe, The Strange Bird. ...
... As mentioned, only recently-approximately in the last two decades-there has been an increasing interest in the various ways in which reading is embodied (see, e.g., Mangen and Van der Weel, 2016;McLaughlin, 2016;Caracciolo and Kukkonen, 2021;Hillesund et al., 2022) and multimodal (Pirini, 2014;Norris, 2019). While movement is key in human performances, the questions that remain are how this movement changes over time, and how it is enabled. ...
... Wie genau aber diese Übersetzung von Wissen in eine Geschichte/Story/Narrativ vorzustellen ist, wer sie wie mit welchen Sprechlizenzen, welchen Adressierungsstrategien und über welche Kanäle zu erzählen hätte und -entscheidend -was sie im Sinne eines nachhaltigen Evidenzmanagements überzeugend machen würde, bleibt weitgehend unbestimmt. Der Erzähltheoretiker Marco Caracciolo untersucht die Verhandlung (konkurrierender) Narrative im Anthropozän unter anderem am Beispiel von Nathaniel Richs non-fiction-Buch Losing Earth (Caracciolo 2020). In diesem Buch geht es um die vermeintlich verpasste Chance, das Klima zu retten. ...
... 12 Erin James discusses this expansion of Western readers' environmental imagination through exposure to postcolonial narrative in The Storyworld Accord (2015). 13 More on animal assemblages and the imaginative challenges they raise in Caracciolo (2020a). ...
... 3 In the terminology introduced by Herman, "storyworlds" are spatial "models built up on the basis of cues contained in narrative discourse" (2002,20). For discussion of this concept from an embodied, enactivist standpoint, see Caracciolo (2019). 4 I will not offer a comprehensive survey of embodied cognitive science in this introduction; other researchers have already reviewed this work in great detail (Lakoff and Johnson 1999;Anderson 2003;Gibbs 2005). ...
... Eva Horn (2020, 160) sieht im "clash of scales" ein zweites zentrales Formproblem, auf das eine Ästhetik im Anthropozän zu antworten hat. Marco Caracciolo (2019) analysiert, wie sich Texte, die er als "Anthropocene Novels" (274) bezeichnet, durch ihre formale Gestaltung auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen heterogene Skalen jenseits der unmittelbaren menschlichen Erfahrung ("nonhuman scales", 272) zueinander in Beziehung setzen und der Imagination zugänglich machen können. Vgl. ...
... or offering a critical analysis of the grand narrative of climate change per se(Bond 2017;Böhm et al. 2019;Caracciolo, Ionescu, and Fransoo 2019;Cascio 2019;Cortese 2018;Daniels and Endfield 2009;Estok 2018;Fahnestock 2019;Gaard 2014;Gkiouzepas and Botetzagias 2018;Hamblyn 2009;Hillier, Kelly, and Klinger 2016; Huxley 2018; Jones 2014; Kirkpatrick 2014; Lejano, Tavares-Reager, and Berkes 2013; LeMenager 2012; Lück et al. 2018; Manolas 2018; Menning 2018; Norton and Hulme 2019; O'Neill et al. 2017; Pipchenko Makarenko, and Ryzhkov 2019; Ritchie and Thomas 2015; Viteri and Takahashi 2019; A. Willis 2012; R. Willis 2019; Wodak 2018; Wright, Nyberg, and Grant 2012, Wright et al. 2018), whereas others are oriented toward climate transitions and sustainable development pathways (Carragher et al. 2018; David and Schönborn 2018; Geall and Ely 2018; Gratzer and Keeton 2017; Heinonen 2013; Howarth 2017; Manuel-Navarrete and Pelling 2015; McNally 2018; O'Neill et al. 2017; Phillips and Dickie 2014, 2015; Smith et al. 2017). In particular, these articles sought to relate aspects of climate change to a broader discussion on transitions or transformations to sustainably developed societies, including explorations of storytelling about energy utopias, life of carbon dependencies and narratives of inaction, imaginations of low-carbon lifestyles, national policy formulations, how urbanization and cities are narrated, and scenario narratives of shared socioeconomic pathways. ...
... Luckily, recently there is a new branch of academic research called Cognitive Literary studies, investigating literature through the focus of brain science. The present study will use Suzanne Keen's (2006Keen's ( , 2007 theory of narrative empathy as well as Marco Caracciolo's (2011Caracciolo's ( , 2018 narration of implicature and relate them to the Theory of Mind adopted from Cognitive Psychology (Zunshine, 2008). Empathy can include not only negative emotions like pity, pain, fear, anger, but can also include positive kinds of empathy like "Happiness, satisfaction, elation, triumph and sexual arousal ... a phenomenon French literary theorists have described with the felicitous term 'jouissance'" (Keen, 2007: p. 5). ...
... As proposed by Kuzmičová (2014), the reader experiences the actions described in the literary text through their "enactment-imagery," a process that sets the reader virtually within the counterfactual world (see Alber, Caracciolo, & Marchesini, 2018). In the aesthetic experience of a literary text, the intensity of a reader's emotional response is bound to the intensity of the activation of the sensitive motor areas because of the interaction between sensorimotor, emotionvaluation, and meaning-knowledge circuitries during aesthetic experiences (Chatterjee & Vartanian, 2014, p. 370;Shimamura, 2012Shimamura, , 2013. ...