Science Fiction and Cognitive Narratology; or What Does Ted Chiang Do to Your Head?

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Engelska parken TBA
  • Lecturer: Merja Polvinen, Erik Allardt Visiting Fellow, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies & Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Helsinki
  • Organiser: LILAe & the English Department
  • Contact person: Julie Hansen
  • Seminarium

Science Fiction and Cognitive Narratology; or What Does Ted Chiang Do to Your Head?

In this talk I will take a cognitive perspective to the argument made by Brian McHale (2018) that science fiction literalises narrative conventions. What can we learn about the nature of storytelling and about the ways in which our minds interact with narrative structures, if we focus on sf instead of realist narratives? In particular, I will analyse the temporal structures of Ted Chiang’s novella “Story of Your Life,” and suggest that through its manipulation of the conventions of story time and discourse time the novella teaches us something about the experiences of curiosity, suspense and surprise in reading fiction.

This higher seminar is organized by the Litterae et Lingue (LILAe) Network and the English Department.