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Such Stuff as Dreams The Psychology of Fiction by Keith Oatley

Such Stuff as Dreams The Psychology of Fiction

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Such Stuff as Dreams The Psychology of Fiction by Keith Oatley

Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction explores how fiction works in the brains and imagination of both readers and writers. Demonstrates how reading fiction can contribute to a greater understanding of, and the ability to change, ourselvesInformed by the latest psychological research which focuses on, for example, how identification with fictional characters occurs, and how literature can improve social abilitiesExplores traditional aspects of fiction, including character, plot, setting, and theme, as well as a number of classic techniques, such as metaphor, metonymy, defamiliarization, and cuesIncludes extensive end-notes, which ground the work in psychological studiesFeatures excerpts from fiction which are discussed throughout the text, including works by William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Kate Chopin, Anton Chekhov, James Baldwin, and others


Such Stuff as Dreamsis a remarkable book in several ways. It stands out by the breadth of the topics covered, extending beyond the reader to also include the writing and the communication about fiction, and by the diversity and richness of the many different concepts and studies brought to bear upon the topic. (JLTonline, 1 July 2014 Review copy sent on 29.05.14 to PsycCRITIQUES Featured in The Scotsman - 25 July 2011 Featured in The Yorkshire Post - 23 August 2011 Featured in The Guardian - 22 July 2012 Featured in The Independent - 28 August 2012 Featured in The Globe & Mail - 9 September 2011 BBC Radio 4 interview - 7 July 2012 Featured in Times Literary Supplement - 30 March 2012 Such Stuff as Dreams is a welcome and well-informed foray into a neglected research area. As someone who has thought very hard about the making of fiction as well as the creative engagement with it, Oatley is an excellent guide to the science of an art form whose value, in this brave new world of cognitive neuroscience, is undiminshed. His claim is that fiction, like other art forms, allows us to experience emotions in new contexts, and thus learn more about these emotions and ourselves. His achievement is to show us the many ways in which this is true. (The Psychologist, April 2012) Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. (Choice, 1 January 2012) Fiction, according to this cognitive psychologist, is a dream or mental model or simulation , and now its effects can be probed with modern scientific techniques ... Oatley explains with enthusiasm the results of his and others
experiments on readers. (The Guardian

, 22 July 2011) Keith Oatley's book asks why we read, and what happens to our mind when we do. It is a winning combination of psychology, literary criticism and speculation. (The Scotsman, 30 July 2011) Review in The Times and The Sunday Times e- paper - 12/07/11. Much of the discussion is compelling, and this book could well change the way you read ... Still, his writing is entertaining and he's tapping into a rich vein, and I hope he will explore the subject further. (New Scientist, 23 July 2011)?

About the Author

Keith Oatley is Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Toronto. He is the co-author of Understanding Emotions (Blackwell, 2006), the most widely used textbook on this subject, and has written three works of fiction, including The Case of Emily V. (1993), which won the 1994 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st July 2011


Keith Oatley

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Wiley-Blackwell an imprint of John Wiley and Sons Ltd


290 pages


Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Literary studies: general



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