Presentation on theme: "Style in Fiction Symposium, 11th March 2006 Mind Style 25 years on"— Presentation transcript:
1 Style in Fiction Symposium, 11th March 2006 Mind Style 25 years on Elena SeminoLancaster UniversityI will talk about one of the many narrative phenomena discussed in SIF, namely mind style – something which I have done some work on since then.
2 Structure of talk Mind style in Style in Fiction Fictional minds in contemporary narratologyCognitive stylistics and mind stylePragmatics and mind styleCorpus methods and mind styleBeyond ‘mind style’?Being by contribution made in SIF on MS.Then broaden the scope of my talk by showing how the study of fictional minds now has an important place in narratology.Then look at how developments in Stylistics and Linguistics have been or can be exploited for the study of MS, and specifically …The consider some difficulties with the term and suggest that perhaps we can now frame the same phenomena differently within current narratology and stylistics.One of my concerns is the partial lack of communication between narratology and stylistics, and the desirability of a common terminology.
3 Mind style in Style in Fiction 1 ‘phenomenon sometimes called “world view”, but for which we shall prefer Fowler’s term MIND STYLE […]:Cumulatively, consistent structural options, agreeing in cutting the presented world to one pattern or another, give rise to an impression of a world-view, what I shall call a “mind style”.’ (Leech and Short 1981: 188)Application of the notion of mind style to authors, narrators and characters.Cline from ‘normal’, ‘natural’, ‘uncontrived’ mind styles, to ‘unusual’ mind styles, ‘which clearly impose an unorthodox conception of the fictional world’. (Leech and Short 1981: 189)SIF picked up notion from Fowler, but went well beyond Fowler’s treatment of this phenomenon.Definition, scope, cline.
4 Mind style in Style in Fiction 2 Discussion of lexis, syntax, transitivity, metaphor, and other textual patterns (e.g. pronoun usage).Observation on characters’ mind styles:‘Characters’ mind styles are more readily discernible as odd: we accept quite easily that a character might have a faulty or limited view of things, and of course we often have the mind styles of other characters as a comparative yardstick.’ (Leech and Short 1981: 202)Ling phenomena.I will focus particularly on the character level, incl char/narr.
5 Fictional minds in narratology: Monika Fludernik ‘Experientiality in narrative as reflected in narrativity can therefore be said to combine a number of cognitively relevant factors, most importantly those of the presence of a human protagonist and her experience of events as they impinge on her situation and activities.’‘[S]ince humans are conscious human beings, (narrative) experientiality always implies – and sometimes emphatically foregrounds- the protagonist’s consciousness.’ (Fludernik 1996: 30)Crucial element in suspension of disbelief is the possibility of access to others’ minds. This may well be one of the main attractions in reading fiction. However, even in the absence of direct internal access, we cannot understand narratives without constructing a representation of the functioning of the minds of characters. Recent work in narratology has put great emphasis on this.Definitions of narrative itself in terms of the representation of individual consciousness/mind.
6 Fictional minds in narratology: Alan Palmer ‘My thesis is a fundamental one: narrative fiction is, in essence, the presentation of fictional mental functioning. [. . .] If I am right, then it follows that the study of the novel is the study of fictional mental functioning and also that the task of the theorist is to make explicit the various means by which this phenomenon is studied and analyzed.’ (Palmer 2004: 5)‘The reader uses existing or prestored knowledge of other minds in the actual world in order to process the emergent knowledge that is supplied by fictional-minds presentation.’ (Palmer 2004: 175)
7 Fictional minds in narratology: Uri Margolin ‘There is no guarantee that individual CMF (Cognitive Mental Functioning) as portrayed in a given fictional narrative will possess any psychological reality, nor is it required to do so. Nonetheless, cognitive-science concepts and categories, including the overall scheme of the basic areas of information processing and their sequence, will in all probability be applicable to the fictional individuals portrayed in literary narratives.’ (Margolin 2003: 274)General consensus in narratology that we apply our knowledge of real minds to the interpretation of fictional minds, as well as other types of knowledge. Hence cognitive science is relevant to the study of our undertanding of fictional minds.
8 Margolin on ‘non-standard’ fictional mental functioning ‘What is probably even more significant is the preference of much literature for nonstandard forms of cognitive functioning, be they rare or marginal, deviant, or involving a failure, breakdown, or lack of standard patterns.’‘But standard case or deviation according to whom? As it turns out, (almost) all writers of fiction base their portrayal of mental functioning on one version or another of what cognitivists term ‘folk psychology’, that is a socially constructed and shared common-sense set of general views […].’‘It is a shared model of this kind that enables the artist to portray the mental functioning of a character in a way which would make that character be considered standard or exceptional by a readership. (Margolin 2003: 287)Margolin uses the notion of ‘cognitive style’ to capture pretty much the same phenomenon as L&S’s ‘mind style’, and, like them, applies it to authors, implied authors, narrators and characters.He stresses that cognitive science is concerned with general patterns, while literature focuses on individuals.Concern in fiction for nonstandard mental functioning.Emphasis on the culture-dependency of these folk theories of the human mind.
9 Margolin ctd.Defamiliarising effect of presenting nonstandard mental functioning.‘The fictional presentation of cognitive mechanisms in action, especially of their own breakdown and failure, is itself a powerful cognitive tool which may make us aware of actual cognitive mechanisms, and, more specifically, of our own mental functioning.’ (Margolin 2003: 278)
10 Halliday’s classic example of mind style: Lok in Golding’s The Inheritors The stick began to grow shorter at both ends. Then it shot out to full length again.The dead tree by Lok’s ear acquired a voice.‘Clop!’His ears twitched and he turned to the tree. By his face there had grown a twig: a twig that smelt of other, and of goose, and of the bitter berries that Lok’s stomach told him he must not eat. The twig had a white bone at the end. There were hooks in the bone and sticky brown stuff hung in the crooks. His nose examined this stuff and did not like it.Fowler’s pioneering discussion of mind style was inspired by Halliday’s classic study of The Inheritors. Analysis of linguistic patterns responsible for the projection of the world view of Lok, a member of a Neanderthal tribe.Discussion of passages such as this, where a familiar experience is described in a way that initially makes it unfamiliar and unrecognisable. Initial disorientation, then, ideally, delayed recognition but construction of a mind who observes the activity without understanding. Parallel construction of what goes on in fictional world, and of how that fictional world is processed by a mind with limited understanding.
11 Benji in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. They were coming towards where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree. They took the flag out, and they were hitting. Then they put the flag back and they went to the table, and he hit and the other hit. Then they went on, and I went along the fence. Luster came away from the flower tree and we went along the fence and they stopped and we stopped and I looked through the fence while Luster was hunting in the grass.(see also Bockting 1994 for an analysis)Another example discussed in SIF.Cases where the fictional world is presented through the point of viwe of a character who has less knowledge than the reader, and who has some cognitive limitation. Vocabulary and transitivity patterns crucial in making a familiar activity unrecognisable or only partly recognisable.This phenomenon can be explained in terms of theories of background knowledge in comprehension, such as schema theory.In fact, there is an uncanny similarity between these passages and some of the texts used by psychologists in experiments, such as this very famous one.
12 An uncanny similarity (Bransford and Johnson 1972: 722) The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange items into different groups. Of course one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step; otherwise, you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do few things at once than too many. In the short run it may not seem important but complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first, the whole procedure may seem complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity of this task in the near future, but then, one can never tell. After the procedure is completed one arranges the material into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more and the whole cycle will have to be repeated. However, that is part of life.(Bransford and Johnson 1972: 722)Washing clothes.Aim of experiment was to show that comprehension requires not just the availability, but also the activation, of relevant background knowledge.
13 Schema theory and mind style 1 Comprehension requires the availability and activation of relevant schemata.Schemata are activated via linguistic triggers (‘headers’) that refer to central elements of the relevant schema.The absence of transparent headers in a text may prevent the activation of the relevant schema, and hence the comprehension of a text (Margolin 2003 calls this ‘frame blocking’).More generic linguistic choices don’t function as successful headers (stick vs bow).
14 Schema theory and mind style 2 The vocabulary choices in examples (1) and (2) are made at a level of generality that initially impedes or delays the activation of the relevant schema (Cf. the ‘washing clothes’ text).The eventual activation of the relevant schema results in comprehension on the reader’s part, but also in the construction of a fictional mind who lacks that schema, as well as the ability to recognise the limitations of their own understanding.Defamiliarising effects.Cf Fowler’s claim on underlexicalisation and lack of relevant concepts.Lack of inference that they miss a particular schema. Lok interprets things in terms of what can be seen as different schemata (movement, trees suddenly growing things, etc.)So we construct a mental representation of what happens in the real world, and also a mental representation of a mind who fails to properly understand what happens in that world.
15 Bromden in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest What the Chronics are – or most of us – are machines with flaws inside that can’t be repaired, flaws born in, or flaws beat in over so many years of the guy running head-on into solid things that by the time the hospital found him he was bleeding rust in some vacant lot.a factory for the Combine. It’s for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches, the hospital is. When a completed product goes back into society, all fixed up and good as new, better than new sometimes, it brings joy to the Big Nurse’s heart; something that came in all twisted different is now a functioning, adjusted component, a credit to the whole outfit and a marvel to behold.(see Semino and Swindlehurst 1996)In some of my work, I have shown how met. patterns can also be exploited to convey mind style, and that CMT can explain these phenomena.Here is Bromden using machine mets more frequently and creatively than normal.
16 Cognitive metaphor theory and mind style Cognitive metaphor theorists have argued that conventional metaphorical patterns in language (e.g. He’s not getting anywhere in his life) reflect conventional patterns of thought, known as ‘conceptual metaphors’ (e.g. LIFE IS A JOURNEY).At the individual level, idiosyncratic metaphorical patterns may reflect idiosyncratic mental functioning (see also Kövecses 2005).Expand on how this works for Bromden: lack of understanding in one area is compensated for by knowledge in another. Some misunderstanding also, but development.Mention contrast with Clegg: acting on dehumanising metaphor, no development.
17 Metaphor and mind style contrasts: Dickens’s Hard Times They went back into the booth, Sleary shutting the door to keep intruders out. Bitzer, still holding the paralysed culprit by the collar, stood in the Ring, blinking at his old patron through the darkness of the twilight.‘Bitzer,’ said Mr Gradgrind, broken down, and miserably submissive to him, ‘have you a heart?’‘The circulation, sir,’ returned Bitzer, smiling at the oddity of the question, ‘couldn’t be carried on without one. No man, sir, acquainted with the facts established by Harvey relating to the circulation of the blood, can doubt that I have a heart.’Bitzer - Bitzer is one of the successes produced by Gradgrind's rationalistic system of education. Initially a bully at Gradgrind's school, Bitzer later becomes an employee and a spy at Bounderby's bank. An uncharacteristically pale character and unrelenting disciple of fact, Bitzer almost stops Tom from fleeing after it is discovered that Tom is the true bank robber.Rationalistic philosophy, based on ‘facts’.Tom, G.’s son, has robbed bank. Father is trying to smuggle him out of the country with the help of circusmaster Sleary. Bitzer has found him and is trying to take him away. Conversation between the now changed Gradgrind and the protoypical product of his educational system.Heart is conventionally metaphorically associated with emotions, especially empathy, generosity, compassion (based on metonymic association between emotions and speed of heartbeat). p. 257 – ‘Have you a heart?’ conversation between G. and B. Conventionally metaphorical vs. literal meaning. Accessibility to reason vs. compassion. (Bitzer’s character is unrealistic, of course, but it serves an important function in terms of the ideological aims of the novel.) Bitzer expressing the philosophy that everything in life is a bargain (has to be paid for) so that there is no space for gratitude among people.Bitzer fails to understand the conventional metaphorical meaning, or pretends to. Literal answer, based on fact.Asymmetry in metaphorical interpretation suggests contrast in world views, and emphasizes the inhumanity of Bitzer.
18 Difficulties with metaphor: Chris in Haddon’s The Curious Incident The second main reason [why Chris finds people confusing] is that people often talk using metaphors. These are examples of metaphors I laughed my socks off He was the apple of her eye. […] [. . .] I think it [metaphor] should be called a lie because a pig is not like a day and people do not have skeletons in their cupboards. And when I try and make a picture of the phrase in my head it just confuses me […]. (pp )And she said lots of things I didn’t understand, e.g. ‘I’m going to hit the hay,’ and, ‘It’s brass monkeys out there,’ and ‘Let’s rustle up some tucker.’ And I didn’t like it when she said things like that because I didn’t know what she meant.!5-year old with Asperger. Declares he cannot understand met. Scientific plus folk belief that autistic people don’t understand met. Opaque metaphorical idioms.
19 A gradual descent into insanity in Woolf’s Lappin and Lapinova But what did he look like? She glanced at him sideways. Well, when he was eating toast he looked like a rabbit.But that was absurd. He was not a tame rabbit, whatever he was. […] ‘Lappin,’ she exclaimed suddenly; and gave a little cry as if she had found the very word she looked for.‘Lappin, Lappin, King Lappin,’ she repeated. It seemed to suit him exactly; he was not Ernest, he was King Lappin. Why? She did not know.Ernest put down the paper and helped her. There were the black rabbits and the red; there were the enemy rabbits and the friendly. There were the wood in which they lived and the outlying prairies and the swamp. Above all there was King Lappin, who, far from having only the one trick—that he twitched his nose—became as the days passed an animal of the greatest character; Rosalind was always finding new qualities in him. But above all he was a great hunter.
20 ‘Ah, Lapinova,’ Rosalind murmured. ‘To–day,’ said Ernest, twitching his nose as he bit the end off his cigar, ‘he chased a hare.’ He paused; struck a match, and twitched again.‘A woman hare,’ he added.[…]‘Ah, Lapinova,’ Rosalind murmured.‘Is that what she’s called?’ said Ernest—‘the real Rosalind?’ He looked at her. He felt very much in love with her.‘Oh, Ernest, Ernest!’ she cried, starting up in her chair.‘Well, what’s up now?’ he asked briskly, warming his hands at the fire.‘It’s Lapinova . . .’ she faltered, glancing wildly at him out of her great startled eyes. ‘She’s gone, Ernest. I’ve lost her!’Ernest frowned. He pressed his lips tight together. […] ‘Yes,’ he said at length. ‘Poor Lapinova. . .’ He straightened his tie at the looking–glass over the mantelpiece.‘Caught in a trap,’ he said, ‘killed,’ and sat down and read the newspaper.So that was the end of that marriage.
21 ‘Blending’ and mind style in Lappin and Lapinova Rosalind makes up a fantasy that can be seen as a ‘blend’ between her ‘real’ world and a series of alternative scenarios containing rabbits, hares, kings and queens (Fauconnier and Turner 2003).She gradually becomes more and more dependent on this fantasy world for coping with her reality (especially her marriage) and for remaining sane. The blend becomes ‘entrenched’, and much of her mental life takes place within it.Ernest’s declaration that Rosalind’s counterpart in the blend is dead causes ‘the end of that marriage’.(see Semino 2006)Turner (2003) has compellingly argued that a crucial ability of human beings is that of operating simultaneously in different ‘stories’: we are able to function in our immediate surroundings (our ‘real’ story) while at the same time imagining ourselves in a different place and time; in some cases we may also blend the two stories into a third story. However, the minds that are described in Turner’s examples are always able to distinguish between ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ stories, and to operate successfully in the former while indulging in the latter. This is not the case with Rosalind, who cannot cope with her ‘real’ story and can barely function within it. The blended scenario provides the only version of Rosalind’s reality in which she feels comfortable. In addition, she needs to know that Ernest intermentally shares the blend with her, that it is an intermental construct. Any signs that this is not the case throw her into panic, and the death of Lapinova in the blend has catastrophic consequences for her life too: without the blended scenario, she cannot live as Ernest’s wife.
22 Communicative behaviour and mind style in The Curious Incident Then the police arrived. I like the police. They have uniforms and numbers and you know what they are meant to be doing. There was a policewoman and a policeman. The policewoman had a little hole in her tights on her left ankle and a red scratch in the middle of the hole. The policeman had a big orange leaf stuck to the bottom of his shoe which was poking out from one side.The policewoman put her arms round Mrs Shears and led her back towards the house.I lifted my head off the grass.The policeman squatted down beside me and said, ‘Would you like to tell me what’s going on here, young man?’I sat up and said, ‘The dog is dead.’‘I’d got that far,’ he said.I said, ‘I think someone killed the dog.’‘How old are you?’ he asked.I replied, ‘I am 15 years and 3 months and 2 days.Give context. Breaking quantity maxim both as narr and as char. Not deliberate, though.
23 Grice’s CP and mind style: infringements ‘A speaker who, with no intention of generating an implicature and with no intention of deceiving, fails to observe a maxim is said to “infringe” the maxim. […] This type of non-observance could occur because the speaker has an imperfect command of the language (a young child or a foreign learner), because the speaker’s performance is impaired in some way (nervousness, drunkenness, excitement), because of some cognitive impairment, or simply because the speaker is constitutionally incapable of speaking clearly, to the point, etc.’ (Thomas 1995: 74)Inferences for cognitive abilities and peculiarities.
24 Level of detail and deautomatisation And there were signs saying Great Western and cold beers and lagers and CAUTION WET FLOOR and Your 50p will keep a premature baby alive for 1.8 seconds and transforming travel and Refreshingly Different and IT’S DELICIOUS IT’S CREAMY AND IT’S ONLY £1.30 HOT CHOC DELUXE and and The Lemon Tree and No Smoking and FINE TEAS and there were some little tables with chairs next to them and no one was sitting at one of the tables and it was in a corner and I sat down on one of the chairs next to it and I closed my eyes.Chris cannot filter detail out in his perception of the world, and so he gets overwhelmed by new places. This becomes obvious in his trip to London, especially in the railway station and then the tube. His narration is overly detailed, therefore, suggesting his confusion, his cognitive peculiarities, but also potentially making us aware of how much we filter out in order to operate effectively in the world. Potentially deautomatising effects of these very detailed but, strictly speaking, uninformative descriptions.
25 Politeness phenomena and mind style: The Modesty Maxim in The Curious Incident My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,507.I think I would make a very good astronaut To be a good astronaut you have to be intelligent and I am intelligent. You also have to understand how machines work and I’m good at understanding how machines work.Politeness phenomena also relevant. No much attention yet for cognitive implications of somebody’s failure to grasp the social conventions that guide politeness strategies. This is exploited in The Curious Incident again.
26 Politeness phenomena and mind style: Face-threatening acts in The Curious Incident I also said that I cared about dogs because they were faithful and honest, and some dogs were cleverer and more interesting than some people. Steve, for example, who comes to school on Thursdays, needs help to eat his food and could not even fetch a stick. Siobhan asked me not to say this to Steve’s mother.And I walked into to the ticket office [. . .] there was a long desk at the other side of the big room and a window on the desk and there was a man standing in front of the window and there was a man behind the window, and I said to the man behind the window, ‘I want to go to London.’Implication of potential face-threatening act to Steve’s mother.No negative facework at the station.
27 Corpus-based approaches to (literary) text analysis and mind style The top five ‘keywords’ in Haddon’s The Curious Incident are: and, I, because, said, then.The verbs feel and felt are followed by adjectives drawn from a very small set: calm, scared, sick, safe, giddy.In Chris’s narrative, the pronoun we is only used with actions (e.g. we went), except in cases of the ‘generic’ we (i.e. Chris does not use expressions such as we saw, we decided, we felt).Concern with himself? Note previous slide also.And, because, then favourite connectors: simplicity, cause-effect relationships (logic)Limitations in understanding of communicative behaviour.1003 instances of said, 67 of said that747 instances of said, “No instances of warn, promise, threatenNo intermentality.
28 Linguistic evidence and characters’ mind styles First-person narrationInternal psychological viewpointThought presentationSpeech presentationPatterns of lexis, grammar, metaphor, transitivity, conversational behaviour, etc.Character mind styles can be inferred from any part of the text that gives us access to their words and thoughts.
29 Beyond ‘mind style’? 1Fowler introduced ‘mind style’ as a paraphrase of ‘point of view on the ideological plane’. He also used the term ‘world view’.Subsequent studies have tended to privilege one or the other of the two terms. In Style in Fiction, the term ‘mind style’ is used.In Semino and Swindlehurst (1996) and Semino (2002), it was suggested that ‘mind style’ and ‘ideological point of view’ could be used to capture different aspects of world views. However, this distinction can be difficult to apply and can be easily misunderstood.Some problem with terminology.The notion of “ideological point of view” is most apt to capture those aspects of world views that are social, cultural, religious or political in origin, and which an individual is likely to share with others belonging to similar social, cultural, religious or political groups. These include, for example, beliefs concerning the place of humans in the Universe or the nature of justice, as well as moral judgements, attitudes towards different social or ethnic groups, and so on. This is consistent with Fowler’s reference to “the set of values, or belief system, communicated by the language of the text” in his definition of “point of view on the plane of ideology”, quoted above.The notion of “mind style” on the other hand, is most apt to capture those aspects of world views that are primarily personal and cognitive in origin, and which are either peculiar to a particular individual, or common to people who have the same cognitive characteristics (for example as a result of a similar mental illness or of a shared stage of cognitive development, as in the case of young children). These aspects include an individual’s characteristic cognitive habits, abilities and limitations, and any beliefs and values that may arise from them. This is consistent with Fowler’s reference to “any distinctive linguistic representation of an individual mental self” in the definition of “mind style”, quoted above.
30 Beyond ‘mind style’? 2Study of (the textual projection of) fictional minds, including:World view = the combination of a fictional individual’s mental representations of the ‘reality’ they inhabit, including both knowledge and attitudes, and both socially shared and personal elements (e.g. van Dijk 2002; see also Fanlo Piniés 2006).Fictional mental functioning = a fictional individual’s mental processes, including both cognition and emotion, and both ‘standard’ and ‘nonstandard’ elements (see Margolin 2003, Palmer 2004)Importance that we bring together the ‘language’ of stylistics and narratology.Not separate aspects. Mind style can be included under fictional mental functioning.
31 ReferencesBockting, I. (1994) Character and Personality in the Novels of William Faulkner: A Study in Psychostylistics. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press.Bransford, J.D. and Johnson, M.K. (1972) ‘Contextual prerequisites for understanding: some investigations of comprehension and recall’, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 11,Fanlo Piniés. M (2006) The Minds and Mental Selves of Characters in Prose Fiction, Unpublished PhD thesis, Lancaster University.Fauconnier, G. and Turner, M. (2002) The Way We Think: Conceptual Blendings and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. New York: Basic Books.Fludernik, M. (1996) Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology. London: Routledge.Kövecses, Z. (2005) Metaphor in Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Margolin, U. (2003) ‘Cognitive Science, the Thinking Mind, and Literary Narrative’, in D. Herman (ed.) Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences, pp Stanford, Ca.: Center for the Study of Language and Information.
32 Palmer, A. (2004) Fictional Minds Palmer, A. (2004) Fictional Minds. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press.Semino, E. (2002) ‘A cognitive stylistic approach to mind style in narrative fiction’, in Semino, E. and Culpeper, J. (eds.) Cognitive Stylistics: Language and Cognition in Text Analysis, John Benjamins,Semino, E. (2006) ‘Blending and characters’ mental functioning in Virginia Woolf’s Lappin and Lapinova’, Language and Literature, 15, 1,Semino, E. and Swindlehurst, K. (1996) ‘Metaphor and mind style in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, Style, 30, 1,Thomas, J. (1995) Meaning in Interaction, London: Longman.Van Dijk, T. (2002) ‘Ideology: political discourse and cognition’, in Chilton, P. and Schäffner, C. (eds) Politics as Talk and Text, Amsterdam: John Benjamins,