Outer vs. inner reverberations: Verbal auditory imagery and meaning-making in literary narrative

Journal of Literary Theory 7 (1-2):111-134 (2013)
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It is generally acknowledged that verbal auditory imagery, the reader's sense of hearing the words on a page, matters in the silent reading of poetry. Verbal auditory imagery (VAI) in the silent reading of narrative prose, on the other hand, is mostly neglected by literary and other theorists. This is a first attempt to provide a systematic theoretical account of the felt qualities and underlying cognitive mechanics of narrative VAI, drawing on convergent evidence from the experimental cognitive sciences, psycholinguistic theory, and introspection. The central argument is that distinctions within the domain of embodied VAI also apply to higher-order meaning-making. That is, based on the imaginer's level of self-implication in their production, discrete types of VAI are associated with discrete tendencies in spontaneous literary interpretation. More generally, the aim of this paper is to isolate a new set of embodied experiences which, along with previously researched phenomena such as sensorimotor enactment or emotion, contribute to our understanding of literary narrative
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