Meet the keynotes: Dr. Raymond A. Mar

In this series of interviews, we will present the keynote speakers at the IGEL Conference 2018.

Dr. Raymond A. Mar is an associate professor at York University.

Dr. Raymond Mar

Dr. Raymond Mar

Which topics will you address at the IGEL Conference 2018?

At IGEL I’m always sure to have plenty of fascinating conversations with my colleagues about a wide range of topics. But for my talk, I plan on discussing the possibility that our engagement with stories might help us to develop out capacity to understand other people, and how we might go about gathering evidence as to whether this is plausible or not.

In your keynote, you’ll be talking about literary reading and social cognition. Could you explain what “social cognition” entails?

Absolutely. Social cognition is a bit of an umbrella term, referring to a suite of cognitive processes that help us to successfully interact with our peers in the social world. This means everything from inferring what people are thinking and feeling, to building up models or representations of our close friends and their unique personalities.

 

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Meet the keynotes: Dr. Jane Davis

In this series of interviews, we will present the keynote speakers at the IGEL Conference 2018.

Portrait: Jane Davis

Dr. Jane Davis

Dr. Jane Davis is Director of The Reader.

Which topics will you address at the IGEL Conference 2018?

I’ll be talking about the development of Shared Reading practice in the UK and  beyond, and asking questions about what people think is happening when we read in this way.

What brought you to studying the associations between literary reading and mental health? 

I’m not a researcher, rather I’m involved in developing the practice of Shared Reading, which is a kind of literary reading where people read aloud, in real time, and share their real-time thoughts and responses. It’s live reading!

I began to be interested in the relation between Shared Reading and mental health when members of the very earliest groups began to tell me that (although I saw it as an educational programme) the reading group was having an effect on their physical and mental health.

More than a decade later, The Reader is commissioned to develop Shared Reading in many mental health settings both in hospitals and in community settings.

Which topics will you address at the IGEL Conference 2018?

I’ll be talking about the development of Shared Reading practice in the UK and  beyond, and asking questions about what people think is happening when we read in this way.

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Meet the keynotes: Professor Philip Davis

In this series of interviews, we will present the keynote speakers at the IGEL Conference 2018.

Professor Philip Davis is Director of CRILS: Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society, University of Liverpool and editor of The Reader magazine.

IGEL 2018 interview – Professor Philip Davis

Portrait: Phil Davis

Professor Philip Davis

What brought you to empirical research on literary reading in the first place?

I suppose ‘empirical’ wasn’t the first word that entered my head. I certainly didn’t want the ‘theoretical’ that has been so much in vogue in my working life since the seventies. I wanted what I would call ‘the individual’ and what I associate with that, ‘the real’. I found that when I was thinking about real individuals and their responses to a poem or short story or novel, then thinking about the literary work and its effect seemed less abstract, more urgent and exciting, humanly.

I then wanted also to think about the other dimension – the underlying mechanisms and processes going on secretly, mentally within serious literary reading: hence my interest in brain-imaging and physiological measures in an attempt to match the feelings with the spikes and lights that partly constituted them at another level. That is why I wanted to collaborate with scientists, psychologists and health professionals, taking my research out of a Department of English Literature, into an institute with interests in psychological wellbeing in the real world.  I wanted genuine experiments, not a mere semi-educated borrowing of the rhetoric of evolution or the vocabulary of brain science. Continue reading

Meet the keynotes: Professor Lydia Kokkola

Portrait: Lydia Kokkola

Professor Lydia Kokkola (Foto: Luleå University)

In this series of interviews, we will present the keynote speakers at the IGEL Conference 2018.

Lydia Kokkola is professor and chaired professor at the Department of Arts, Communication and Education, Luleå University of Technology.

What brought you to empirical research in the first place, and to studying the role of literary reading in the classroom?

I was originally trained as a primary school teacher, although I began my career working in pre-school education in Finland. I was working in an immersion setting: the children (aged 4-7) were all Finnish speakers, but I spoke to them only in English. I soon noticed that the children used formulaic phrases accurately, but also creatively in unexpected contexts. The most popular phrases used by the children were instructions they had heard me utter (e.g. “wash your hands”), but they also used chunks taken from songs and stories (e.g. “come quick Ville is the wild rumpus in the playroom!”).

I wrote my licentiate on this phenomenon and then went on, in my PhD, to examine what happened when Finnish speaking children learned to read in English in these immersion classrooms. Again, I noticed that the support offered by literature clearly made the process of learning easier.

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Meet the keynotes: Professor Karina van Dalen-Oskam

Portrait: Karina

Prof. Karina van Dalen-Oskam

In this series of interviews, we will present the keynote speakers at the IGEL Conference 2018.

Karina van Dalen-Oskam is professor of Computational literary studies at the University of Amsterdam, and research leader of the department of Literary studies at the Huygens institute for the History of the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

Which topics will you address at the IGEL Conference 2018?

At the 2018 IGEL conference I will talk about my project The Riddle of Literary Quality. In this project, which is nearly finished, we combine stylometric and sociological methods in trying to unlock the current conventions of literary quality in the Netherlands. I will explain the reasoning behind this combination and present the results of the reader experiments and the text analysis.

What brought you to computational literary studies in the first place, and to quantitatively studying stylistic differences in texts, but also in genres, and across time and languages?

My main interest has always been literary texts, especially prose fiction. But I also enjoyed the strict logic behind many linguistic methods, much more than the approaches I saw literary scholars use. Continue reading

Meet the keynotes: Dr. Frank Hakemulder

Portrait: Frank Hakemulder

Dr. Frank Hakemulder

In this series of interviews, we will present the keynote speakers at the IGEL Conference 2018.

Dr. Frank Hakemulder is an assistant professor at the Department for Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University. Hakemulder was President of IGEL from 2012-2016.

Which topics will you address at the IGEL Conference 2018?

I will present the results of the research projects that I am running in the Netherlands, focusing on the role of literature in enhancing self-knowledge and social perception.

What brought you to empirical research in the first place, and to studying the phenomenon of absorption in literary reading?

We know of no society, in history nor anywhere in the world, that does not have something that we can call ‘literature.’ That makes one wonder what it is for.

Scholarship has accumulated quite a number of theories and hypotheses about this – since ancient times philosophers, writers, and educators have speculated about all sorts of explanations. Often the assumed effects of literature on readers (or listeners) seem rather crucial; for instance: learning about the lives of others, gaining insights into the human condition and who we are.

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Save the date: The 16th IGEL Conference in Stavanger, Norway

The International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature and Media – IGEL – is a highly interdisciplinary society of scholars and researchers involved in empirical studies of the nature, effects, and implications of literature and literary reading.

For two decades, IGEL has conducted biennial conferences in North-America and Europe.
IGEL and the Norwegian Centre for Reading Education and Research, University of Stavanger, are proud to welcome you to the 16th biennial IGEL Conference in Stavanger, Norway.

The conference is open for everybody with an interest in our research areas. Register before May 1st for an early bird discount!

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