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1. Project Information


Varieties of Absorption in Narrative and Aesthetic Experiences A Comparative Study of Responses to Literature and Film

Summary: Nells Lost in a Book (1988) put absorbed reading of narrative fiction on the map of scholarly interests. Besides characterizing it as a trance-like state, Nell did leave absorptionan experiential state characteristic of engagement with narrativelargely un-theorized. Researchers within various disciplines from both the Humanities and the Social Sciences have stepped in and tried to describe absorption. Their separate endeavors have resulted in a terminology that is bewilderingly diverse. As a phenomenon absorption knows both proponents and opponents in the practical field of narrative creation and reception. Writers of political messages and advertisements have made good use of its persuasive effects. At the same time, societal concerns are raised about the potentially harmful impact of narratives specially created in order to confuse its audience as to what is real, lure them into adopting certain attitudes, or take particular ideological positions for granted (Appel 2008). In addition, concerns are expressed regarding a lack of the kinds of narratives that can make readers more critical and self-aware. Ronald Plasterk, the Dutch Minister of Culture, recently signalled the tendency of commercial media to offer only absorbing entertainment, and warned that media have the duty to dislodge audiences out of their comfort zone in order to open their mind to attend critically to what happens in the world. So far, however, claims about societal effects of narrative absorption, whether positive or negative, cannot be scientifically evaluated. In part this is due to the absence of empirical research on the mechanisms that underlie absorption (Bilandzic and Kinnebrock 2009). Although some progress has been made in measuring absorption-like states and in identifying textual factors relevant in this context (Green 2004), little is known about what varieties of absorption there are, what features of narrative play a role in its production, how these features may interact with recipient traits, and how absorption relates to responses perhaps less comfortable than superficial fun, such as aesthetic and moral reflections. The research project proposed here will present a taxonomy of absorption-like experiential states. It will identify narrative features responsible for these states in two different media, film and literature. It will explore personality traits of viewers and readers that are relevant in bringing about absorption. And it will clarify relationships between narrative absorption and

aesthetic experiences and their after effects. Accordingly our leading research question is: What is the role of absorption in aesthetic and other responses to literary and cinematic narratives? To answer this question, the current project innovatively unites empirical research with methodologies that are typical in the Humanities (i.e., text-analytic approaches to narrative; theoretical concerns about aesthetic responses; comparative media studies). In addition, through collaboration with creative partners (e.g., authors, film directors), we intend to shape our materials in order to precisely match our research goals and create cohesion between the different subprojects. The design of the project allows for a media-comparative approach with one PhD-project focusing on absorption in literature, and another on absorption in film. Furthermore, all research group-members are involved in designing and running a final experiment that specially targets a comparison between both media in their relations to

absorption and to aesthetic experiences. Both PhD-projects consist of 4 experimental studies in which medium-specific narrative features that result in absorption related experiential states are identified. They will involve careful text-manipulation and take into account the contribution of reader/viewer characteristics (e.g., in terms of media literacy). To ultimately determine different experiential profiles, the Post-Doc project will conduct both quantitative and qualitative empirical research in order to come to nuanced explicative characterizations of relationships between absorption profiles and aesthetic experiences. As to that goal, results of the two PhDprojects are taken into consideration. In a monograph written by the two applicants, results of all studies will be synthesized and underlying mechanisms of narrative absorption are discussed in light of claims regarding positive or negative societal effects. Lastly, in the Post-Doc-articles as well as in the monograph, findings of all studies are considered in relation to games and virtual reality. The scholarly relevance of our research lies predominantly in providing the Humanities with an empirically founded understanding of narrative impact and the factors that influence it. The project offers essential contributions to the accumulating insights of social scientists concerning the role of absorption in narrative effects (e.g., attitude and belief change). Questions that require an answer prior to this evidently important study of narrative effects are: what makes a narrative absorbing in the first place? And how are the particular forms of being absorbed related to feeling entertained, or enraptured, or inspired by its beauty? And finally, how do the answers to these questions inform the study of narrative effects? It seems plausible that these answers are decisive in examination of narrative effects such as on mood, escape or comfort, happiness, social interaction skills, critical thinking, openness to form and ideas, attitude and belief changes (Hakemulder 2000, Oatley 1999, 2002). We envision two major practical applications of our results. One is to solidify the knowledge base of media literacy training, which in this increasingly mediated culture is now more important than ever. The other is that creative storytellers (e.g., involved in storytelling in

marketing and management) are provided with directives regarding ways in which textual features relate to particular types of (aesthetic) responses, including finding stories captivating. All of these are themes of interest to other absorbing media as well, most importantly perhaps games and other virtual reality media, as their user population is expanding so rapidly and pervasively. On a more general cultural note, a better understanding of the nature and origin of absorption and other related phenomena is crucial for deploying aesthetic antidotes to superficial entertainment.

2. Information Applicant Name, title(s): University: Research school: E-mail: Dr. F. Hakemulder Utrecht University Research Institute for History and Culture F.Hakemulder@uu.nl male

3. Information Co-Applicant Name, title(s): University: Research school: E-mail: Prof. dr. Ed Tan University of Amsterdam Amsterdam School of Communications Research E.S.H.Tan@uva.nl male

4. Previous and Future Submissions This application has not been submitted anywhere else. We will not apply elsewhere for the duration of NWOs selection procedure.

5. Institutional Setting a. Research Institute for History and Culture, Utrecht University b. Amsterdam School of Communications Research, University of Amsterdam

6. Period of Funding September 2010 August 2014 (four years).

7. Composition of the Research Team


Dr. F. Hakemulder

Utrecht University


Prof. dr. E. S. Tan

University of Amsterdam

Research Team


M. M. Kuijpers, MA M. Doicaru

Utrecht University


University of Amsterdam



Utrecht University

Otherwise Involved


Prof. Dr. Joost Raessens

Utrecht University


Prof. Dr. Frank Kessler

Utrecht University

Advisor (transportation after effects)

Dr. Jochen Peter

University of Amsterdam

Advisor (reader response / phenomenological Prof. Dr. Don Kuiken approach to absorption)

University of Alberta

Advisor (reader response / empirical studies Prof. Dr. David Miall of foregrounding)

University of Alberta

Advisor (psychological models of narrative Prof. Dr. Rolf Zwaan processing)

University of Rotterdam

Advisor (psychological models of narrative Prof. Dr. Max Louwerse processing)

University of Memphis

8. Structure of the Proposed Research

Project 1: Varieties and Determinants of Absorption in Narrative Literature PhD-project under supervision of Prof. Dr. Joost Raessens, and Dr. Frank Hakemulder, carried out by Moniek Kuijpers at Utrecht University (see for a motivation: Origin of the project, page 7).

Project 2: Varieties and Determinants of Absorption in Narrative Film PhD-project under supervision of Prof. Dr. Ed Tan and Prof. Dr. Frank Kessler, carried out at the University of Amsterdam.

Project 3: Aesthetic Experiences and Medium-Specific Aspects of Absorption Post-Doc project under supervision of Prof. Dr. Joost Raessens, and Dr. Frank Hakemulder). Vacant.

Project 4: Aesthetics of Absorption Monograph, a synthesis of the project written by Dr. Frank Hakemulder (Utrecht University) and Prof. Dr. Ed Tan (University of Amsterdam).

9. Description of the Proposed Research

Research Problem Nells Lost in a Book (1988) put absorbed reading of narrative fiction on the map of scholarly interests. By now the scope of research into experiential states of such nature has widened to also include those initiated by film and virtual reality and computer games. In terms of both theoretical and empirical initiatives, Gerrigs (1993) metaphor of transportation has turned out to be pivotal. In a number of key publications, Oatley and colleagues (e.g., 1999; 2002) show, for instance, how transportive reading experiences draw on readers ability to simulate social interaction, allowing for readers to practice their understanding of others. Despite multidisciplinary advances, the origin and nature of absorption and related phenomena remain obscure. Research tends to be primarily oriented towards the exploration of outcome, most specifically belief changes constituted through narrative processing (e.g., Bilandzic and Bussele in press; Green et al 2002; Strange and Leung 1999). Also, studies typically concentrate on non-aesthetic responses to written narratives, without taking literary

texts and film into consideration. Moreover, aesthetic responses have not been studied at all, in relation to absorbing experiences.

Research Aim To complement available research in these respects, the current project aims to present a theoretically informed and empirical based taxonomy of experiential profiles of absorption (cf. Graesser et al. 1996). We will therefore explore the determinants and mechanisms that lead and contribute to absorption, looking in particular at (medium-specific) narrative procedures (cf. Semino 2003; 1997). In addition, we will relate these findings to the potential aesthetic nature of responses, taking into account that these may be medium-dependent. In this we will confine ourselves to two media: literature and film. Accordingly, our main research question reads: What is the role of absorption in aesthetic and other responses to literary and cinematic narrative? A preliminary conceptual model presented below informs our sub-questions.

Sub-Question 1: Are there different types of absorption experiences? And if so, what are their experiential profiles? Absorption is the umbrella term we use to refer to processing of text or film in a state of heightened concentration (Nell 1988). The research domain is saturated with terms that probably embody different kinds of absorption (Green and Brock 2000). Transportation, the feeling as if one is transported into a story world (Gerrig 1993), is just one of the ways in which absorption is manifested. We employ empirical research allowing for collecting and mapping

experiential profiles of absorption experiences that are actually lived and directly reported by readers and viewers and/or registered by means of preverbal responses. Empirically gathered experiential profiles will be used as the basis for a taxonomy of absorption states. Sub-Question 2: What factors generate absorption?

Little is known about what textual factors cause absorption. Green (2004) has investigated readers familiarity with story subject and perceived realism as factors of transportation. We pay specific attention 1) to narrative cohesion affecting absorption and 2) foregrounding interfering with transportation (cf. Vlad 2009). Foregrounding refers to textual features that draw attention to the way in which particular content is presented (Mukarovsky 1964; Shklovsky 1965). Such text features are often associated with aesthetic qualities (e.g., Kessler 2010; 1996). We examine whether foregrounding causes what we propose to call interruptions (cf. Raessens 2009; Lammes 2010). Moreover, we consider textual procedures in their interaction with reader/viewer characteristics such as attitude (e.g., a perceivers inclination to willingly suspend disbelief), (media) knowledge and experiences (e.g., familiarity with the medium, genre, and/or world represented in the narrative), and personality (e.g., high imaging capacity) (Miall and Kuiken 1998). Sub-Question 3: Do absorption states affect aesthetic experiences?

Current research so far failed to connect absorption states systematically with aesthetic responses. Aesthetic responses tend to be engaging, as well as strikingly exempt from selforientated and/or utilitarian motivations (e.g., Barker 1983; Farber 1982: Kant 2000). This combination allows for a concentrated and appreciative attention for the object as it is and the meanings it appears to put forward. We explore whether there are specific kinds of absorption that especially pertain to aesthetic experiences inspired by for instance, the sense of disintegration evoked by the sublime or the integrative quality of beauty (Aaftink; Kuiken, Miall, and Aaftink 2006). Furthermore, it is plausible that entertainment does not challenge the imagination as beauty or the sublime does. Sub-Question 4: Are (aspects of) absorbing experiences medium-specific?

Theorists often presuppose strong contrasts between responses to literature and film (e.g., Iser 1976). Our initial position is that narrative form is pivotal for bringing about absorption processes, and the medium in question (text or film) is of lesser importance. We do expect to

find, however, profound qualitative differences between readers and viewers in terms of the nature of (aspects of) absorption processes, aesthetic experiences, and their combined occurrence.

Scientific relevance This project provides an empirical foundation for theories concerning absorbing narrative experiences and aesthetic responses to these experiences. Empirical research will afford the opportunity to differentiate between absorbing experiences across media boundaries, an endeavor that is unprecedented in absorption research. Hence, we hope to engage researchers from the Humanities (e.g., text world theorists; Werth 1999; Gavins 2007) and Social Sciences (e.g., simulation theorists; Oatley 1999; 2002), by disentangling the conceptual confusion established through the obscuring diversity in terminology (e.g., immersion, flow, identification, empathy, presence, diegetic effect) and methodology (from narratology to MRI). Our project will facilitate participants exchange of research results across traditional academic divides (e.g., film theory and game studies; literary studies and cognitive psychology).

Research method (and potentially needed equipment) Our research is theory-based empirical. It includes both qualitative (e.g., interviews) and quantitative methods (experiments). The two PhD projects mirror each other in their orientation towards exploring textual features that generate absorbing and aesthetic responses. One project is concerned with text and the other with film. Absorption states are the primary set of quantitative outcome variables, while aesthetic responses will be modeled as a second such set, mediated or moderated by the first. Operationalisations of absorption include transportation and flow. Empathy and identification scales are included as additional measures of experiential states (cf. Oatley and Gholamain 1997). Reader and viewer trait variables, such as empathic ability, function as control factors. To validate self-report measures of absorption, on-line measures based on response latencies will be developed. To that end online measurement equipment is made available at Utrecht University (UilOTS). Participants will be recruited from university participant pools. One set of narratives will be used in all three projects in order to maintain coherence. To obtain proper manipulations of textual qualities advice from creative partners will be sought in producing different experimental versions. Further coherence is ensured by a final comprehensive experiment with narrative coherence and text vs. film as independent and absorption and aesthetic responses as dependent variables. The Post-Doc project is largely concerned with refined descriptions of absorption phenomena, aesthetic responses, and experiential profiles of both, in view of reception

processes of text and film. To this end an integrative discussion of (preliminary) results of both PhD-projects is planned. The foundation of the project consists of two larger scale studies, one using in-depth qualitative and the other exploratory quantitative methods. The concluding monograph will present a comprehensive taxonomy of absorption phenomena, as follows from an integrative interpretation of all studies of the project as related to other relevant research.

Projects origin The core concepts targeted in this project build upon the applicants numerous studies of psychological processes in responses to literature and film (e.g., Hakemulder 2008a; 2008b) on imaginary role-taking in reading; Tan 1995; 1996; Andringa et al. 2001). Knowledge on what it is that individuals do when reading a text or watching a film will be used to differentiate specific experiential states, as well as their media specificity. Assessment of textual elements, neglected in current literature on experiential states, will profit from our research in which we use experimental manipulations to accurately identify textual characteristics pivotal for reader and viewer responses (e.g., Hakemulder on narrative perspective [2000] and foregrounding [2004]; Tan on narrative structures [1996; Tan and Diteweg 1996] and actor expression [2005; Visch and Tan 2009]).

Bibliographical means Not applicable.

Innovative nature of the research So far absorption states have not been typologized either theoretically or empirically. In addition, never before have they been considered in relation to aesthetic experiences. Furthermore, the present project contributes a new (media-)comparative aspect to the field of transportation research. Novel is also the use of text manipulation in cooperation with creative partners.

Coherence between different projects and the value of a programmatic design All sub-projects adhere to the same research questions, general objectives and focus on the same narrative materials, as follows clearly from the ways in which the three sub-projects and the concluding synthesizing monograph cover all items of our conceptual model: the two mirroring PhD-projects focus mostly the first three columns in the table on page 6; the Post-Doc and the monograph are concerned with the third, fourth, and fifth. The research-team consists of researchers specialized in film theory, literary theory, social and cultural psychology, empirical


methodology, and philosophical and empirical aesthetics. This enables us to do justice to the valuable insights these different fields contribute to absorption research.

First PhD-Project Varieties and Determinants of Absorption in Narrative Literature The general concern of this project is with literature as a medium, and the relation between literary reading and absorption. Inspired by theory and research in Humanities and Social Sciences we assume that transportation (which is a specific kind of absorption state)is a typical narrative phenomenon, crucial to understanding function and influence of narrative. Hence, we concentrate on the causes of transportation and related absorption states in readers (Green 2008; Kuiken, Wild, and Schopflocher 1995) and texts (Kuiken, Miall, and Sikora 2004), we develop a taxonomy of resulting absorption states (cf. Miall 2009), and explore ways in which those states affect readers aesthetic experiences. This project entails an elaborate literature study on the topic of absorption and an extensive empirical research component which consists of two parts: one concentrating on narrative procedures and structure, the other focusing on foregrounding. In both parts, context and materiality are considered as factors that potentially affect the nature of the reading experience, including the intensity of absorption. By varying materials and context in the planned empirical studies studies (e.g., reading a book or other paper-based medium vs. reading from a screen; reading in a home-like setting vs. reading in an environment that is clearly a research setting) we assess the degree of influence that materiality and context have on absorbing reading experiences. Because absorption is often assumed to be an immediate effect of narrative processing, we hypothesize that strengthening or weakening narrativity in a text results in stronger (positive or negative) absorption effects than bodily pointers in the text. This expectation is tested in two studies in which 1) typicality of narrative texts is systematically varied (e.g., with emphasis on portrayal of situation), in combination with 2) a variety of bodily (experiential) pointers in narrative texts (e.g., with emphasis on the portrayal of characters). Independent variation of the two factors is to reveal to what degree narrativity and characterization (both physiological and psychological) features contribute to the experience of absorption. Absorption is measured using Tellegen and Atkinsons (1974) scale, adapted to capture experiential state rather than reader trait, and Green and Brocks (2000) transportation scale. An additional aspect of the empirical component of this project is the readers bodily experience. An important reason to pay close attention to the body is the anticipation that absorption brings about significant changes in our bodily self-awareness, as well as our relation


to others (Blakeslee and Blakeslee 2008; Oatley 1999). These bodily experiences will be assessed through participants self-reports during reading, in reference to Kuijpers (2009) study on the relationship between bodily feeling and levels of absorption in readers of literary texts. We examine whether bodily reactions add to a sense of absorption and test the relative influence of a heightened sense of absorption on readers bodily responses. On of the possibilities considered is that, as we are all readers with embodied minds, we will react to certain bodily or sensational pointers in a text (Hauk and Pulvermulder 2004; Speer et al. 2005; Zwaan 2004). Furthermore, we explore readers empathic and immersive abilities (Hari 2007) and their medium- or story-world-specific expertise and examine to what extent these features correlate with the chance of absorption taking place and the kinds and levels of intensity of absorbing processes experienced. The second part of the project focuses on the influence of foregrounding on absorption. For the first study, foregrounding is manipulated to determine its effects on readers (Graaf et al. 2009; Hakemulder 2004). In a second study, foregrounding is varied in combination with immersive tactics identified in the first part of this sub-project (e.g., emphasis on action related story content or increase in descriptions of bodily sensations) to determine whether immersion strengthens or weakens the impact of foregrounding on absorption. We suspect that foregrounding has a weakening effect on transportation, as it draws attention to formal aspects of the text rather than the texts narrative. We will also consider the possibility that certain kinds of foregrounded features do contribute to absorbing experiences; these might concern semantic features (e.g., bodily pointers, comprehensive descriptions of movements, sensations or emotions) rather than phonetic or grammatical constructions. For all manipulation of texts, we will seek cooperation with creative partners. All four studies (two in the first part and two in the second part of this project) will examine the relation between absorption and aesthetic experience (sub-question 3). Furthermore, measures are developed to assess a variety of reader responses (e.g., enjoyment, interest, flow, embodied empathy, and judgments of beauty). We are particularly interested in the relationship between the perceived intensity of absorption experiences and aesthetic experiences that have profiles that either resemble those of entertainment, the sublime or the beautiful (Kuiken, Miall and Aaftink 2006; Aaftink).

Second PhD Project Varieties and Determinants of Absorption in Narrative Film The second project focuses on film as a medium. Narrowing down sub-question 1, it examines transportation in relation to another experiential state, namely cognitive absorption (Agarwall


and Karahanna 2000). It is characteristic for both states that the film viewers attention is focused and intense, but, in case of cognitive absorption, there is no experiential switch from the actual here and now to another fictional world. Instead, a distancing from the here and now occurs due to concentrated contemplation of relations among narrative form, that is, the represented and the real world (including that of ideas). This response profile, as well as these narrative procedures may be less typical for mainstream films. The main emphasis of this project is on sub-question 2. In four experimental studies we examine effects of textual factors on transportation and cognitive absorption. The first two test the strongest position one could take on the dependence of transportation on narrative. It is then that transportation becomes an immediate effect of any narrative (Gerrig 1993; Green & Brock 2000), making the kind of medium employed of lesser importance. This means that media that may be perceived as conveying more realistic representations may add to transportation capacities of a narrative (Gerrig and Prentice 1996; Tan 1996), even though their perceived realism is not by itself sufficient for transportation (Tan 2008). We will test the hypothesis that strengthening or weakening narrativity results in stronger (positive or negative) transportation effects than enhancing perceptual realism does. In studies 1 and 2, 1) typicality of narrative films (their adherence to norms of mainstream stories) is systematically varied, in combination with 2) perceptual realism, to be more specific, immersiveness. The structural affect theory of narrative discourse (Brewer and Lichtenstein 1982) is taken as a starting point for manipulating narrative typicality. A short film is re-edited as to yield versions corresponding more or less to typical discourse organizations or to either contain or lack typical story components. Immersiveness is a set of properties of cinematic display, including physical features such as visual angle and image resolution (Slater and Wilbur 1997; Visch, Tan and Molenaar in press). High immersive presentations result in higher intensity of viewers impressions that they are physically present in the film scene they watch (Wirth et al 2007). Lower and higher levels of immersiveness will be realized by varying viewing angle, amount of environmental distractions, and image resolution. Independent variation of the two factors will bring to light to what degree narrativity and cinematic features contribute to the experience of transportation. Dependent variables will be rating scales of transportation (Green and Brock 2000), cognitive absorption, flow (Cszikszentmihalyi 1990) and immersion (scale to be constructed), as well as a large set of items pertaining aesthetic experiences (e.g., interest, beauty, interestingness, enjoyment, meaningful, embodied empathy). In the first study on-line measures of transportation will be tried out in order to validate the self-report measures. Whereas in the first study two levels of the experimental variables will be included in the design, the second study will extend the number of levels and introduce control variables in the design (e.g., traits such as openness to experience, film taste and expertise, imagination ability).


The other two studies are designed to explore the effects of foregrounding on transportation and cognitive absorption. In the first study, respondents are invited to view cinematic material in which foregrounding is manipulated to a greater or lesser extent. A short narrative film will be re-edited in order to contain more or less repetition of actions and metaphorical inserts (cf. Hakemulder 2008b). The same measures for transportation and cognitive absorption are used as in the previous studies. In the first study, we will attempt to validate an on-line measure for cognitive absorption, modifying the transportation measure developed in the first study. In the second study, foregrounding will be varied in combination with immersion in order to find out whether immersion strengthens or weakens the impact of foregrounding on cognitive absorption and transportation. Aesthetic experience and control variables will be measured in both studies. It is expected that foregrounding will increase cognitive absorption more than transportation does. Sub-question 3 will be addressed by means of a newly designed questionnaire employed in all four studies. Direct and mediated effects of textual structures, as well as correlations between transportation-cognitive absorption and aesthetic responses will be studied. The relation between enjoyment and beauty is of major concern in the analysis, as we hypothesize that cognitive absorption--in comparison to transportation--is not enjoyed as much, but does inspire higher beauty judgments. Both PhD-projects together contribute to answering subquestion 4.

Post-Doc Project Medium-Specific Aspects of Absorption and Aesthetic Experiences Whereas the PhD-projects focus on either text or film, the Post-Doc section examines mediumspecific aspects of both text and film (e.g., absence or presence of visual and sonic stimulation, character features shown in film or described by omniscient narrator) in order to perform a comparative analysis of both media and the kinds of absorbing experiences they afford. Furthermore, it is investigated in what ways (experiential qualities) of absorption relate to (experiential qualities of) aesthetic experiences. Another important focus of the Post-Doc project concerns identifying after-effects of absorbing (aesthetic) experiences (e.g., overall sense of well-being, future media choices, appreciation of life, feeling inspired), in addition to the much theorized persuasion effect (e.g. Graaf 2009; Green and Brock 2000). Besides elaborate literature researchan endeavor which includes critical discussions of (preliminary findings of) both PhD-projectsthe Post-Doc project entails two extensive empirical studies specially designed to collect data that allows for 1) identifying experiential qualities of response processes and subsequently typologizing absorbing experiences and 2) comparative analysis of response processes (including absorbing moments) of text and film.


The following studies are included in the project document. It should be stressed that the details are open for discussion. However, these are the initial plans. In a first studyan integrative experimental project which involves all members of the research team--the relative influence of narrative and medium on experiential states of absorption and aesthetic response is assessed in order to test the hypothesis that narrative typicality is a stronger determinant of transportation than the medium (text or film). Employing the experimental materials of the experiments of the PhD-projects, two versions differing as to narrative coherence of a text and a film story are tested in a 2x2 design. Transportation and other absorption measures are the outcome variables, and their mediating or moderating role in aesthetic responses will be examined. Measures of aesthetic response include ratings of concepts related to beauty and the sublime. In a second study, rich empirical data is collected on respondents responses to (parts of) a text or film, and, more specifically, moments of absorption in those responses. This study consists of 30 in-depth interviews, followed by 30 follow-up interviews with the same respondents, on absorption experienced in response to a respondent-selected film or text. In the first interview, a respondents media preferences are explored and details of a recalled significant moment of absorption with a text or film are discussed. The respondent is then asked to revisit the text or film on her own, make notes of her responses (e.g., feelings, thoughts, observations, associations, bodily sensations) during and after reading/viewing, and contact the interviewer to make an appointment for a second interview. The follow-up interview departs from the respondents notes in order to further explicate her or his experience. Analysis of the data is oriented towards mapping different types of absorbing processes in light of specifics of a particular text or film. The third study employs an absorption and aesthetic experience questionnaire distributed among 140 participants in order to identify, elucidate and compare their responses to a preselected text, film, or text and film. The questionnaire instrument entails validated items from both PhD-projects, in addition to newly formulated items resulting from theoretical research and findings of the first Post-Doc study. Results are used to verify, crystallize, and elaborate upon response profiles identified in the first study of this Post-Doc project. Within the general limitations of this proposal, the Post-Doc will formulate his or her own plans to execute these studies.

Programmatic embedding Both Utrecht University and the University of Amsterdam are particularly suitable research environments for our project. At the Institute for History and Culture (UU) we will participate in the Texts and Mediality-group, a team of scholars with various backgrounds, ranging from philosophy to psychology. Researchers of the School for Media and Cultures Studies (UU) are


typically interested in comparative approaches and have worked, among others, on absorptionrelated phenomena (Raessens) and foregrounding (Kessler). Furthermore, the laboratory facilities of Utrechts Institute of Linguistics have been made available to this project. ASCoR is an internationally highly reputed research institute in the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences of the University of Amsterdam. It houses a group of media psychologists specialised in entertainment communication research headed by Valkenburg and it includes Peter, who coordinates an NWO project involving aspects of transportation. Tans research involves multidisciplinary studies into the nature of entertainment experiences in a broad sense, including both pleasurable and aesthetic gratifications. In this project, theoretical modeling of factors responsible for entertainment and other experiences is coupled to experimental work. Some of the work is part of the EUROCORES program CNCC, project Emotional Feelings and Subject-Object Relationships.

Social, cultural or technical relevance of the research The results of our project are of great interest to media literacy programmes and media policies, regarding, for instance, the promotion of reading, raising critical awareness of (harmful) media effects, parent and pedagogue instruction on how to guide children in their media selection and consumption, and media content classification, that is, risk ratings as used in film and television classification systems. We will contribute to these causes by revealing the specifics of absorption, the efforts it demands and the rewards it affords to users of two omnipresent narrative media. As such, our project will confront claims both of positive absorption effects (e.g., personal involvement) and of negative effects (e.g., undesired persuasion) with empirical evidence. More in particular our research will raise greater understanding of the risk that absorbing processing bereave(s) readers/viewers of their critical eye (cf. Brecht 1976). Identification of what textual features are pivotal in this respect is necessary to counteract such impact. As importantly, our project will examine how aesthetic responses interact with different types of absorption in determining aftereffects. Lastly, we will explore to what extent someones psychological make-up might make a difference to absorbing and aesthetic experiences. []

13. Planned Deliverables Two PhD-dissertations, one for literature and one for film; prepublication in four articles per PhD in peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Poetics, Media Psychology, Discourse Processes, Philosophy and Literature, Cognition and Consciousness, Projections).


Articles by the Post-Doc reporting on findings of the PhD-projects and discussions of aesthetic experiences of transportation in response to (medium-specific features of) text and film and their after-effects. Articles by (a) the supervisor of the first project exploring the relevance of the findings of the project for virtual reality and game studies, and (b) the second supervisor of the second project outlining the historical dimension of the project. A synthesis by project-leader and co-applicant in an edited book with subsequent contributions by the PhDs and the Post-Doc. A website for dissemination to non-specialists in creative professions. A symposium in the second and fourth year of the project. Part of the symposium in the fourth year will be dedicated to (transmedia) storytelling in, e.g., marketing and management.

14. Short Curriculum Vitae Principal Applicant Frank Hakemulder (1966) has a background in literary theory, comparative literature, and art policy and management (MA Liberal Arts, Utrecht University [09/1986 01/1992]). He conducted his PhD-research (09/1993 23/10/1998 The Moral Laboratory; Experiments examining the effects of reading literature on social perception and moral self-concept) at the Department of Literary Studies at Utrecht University and the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, USA). He specialized in the psychology of literature, focusing on the effects of role-taking during the reading of literary texts and its effects on attitudes. From 1998 to 2001, Hakemulder conducted Post-Doc research at the Free University of Amsterdam, looking at aspects of literary communication that may be responsible for the effects of reading on intergroup attitudes (part of an NWO funded project entitled the Multicultural and Multiform Society). During that period Hakemulder also conducted free-lance research for the National Foundation for the Promotion of Reading. Since 2001 he has been a lecturer at the Institute for Media and Culture Studies (Utrecht University). He trains students in the Humanities in methodological aspects of research, experimentation at BA level (see 2007) and qualitative research at MA level. He (co-)supervised several MA (e.g., Lord of the Rings Research Project) and PhD-projects. As researcher at the Institute for History and Culture, Hakemulder conducts empirical studies concerning the reception of literature and film. His research interests include: foregrounding in literature and film and its effect on aesthetic judgments; the effect of narratives on readers theory of mind; motivations to reread novels or see movies more than once; and reception of adaptations.

17 Hakemulder is a member of Homo Narrans (Meertens Institute), a multidisciplinary group of researchers examining stories and story subcultures from Medieval times to the present. He actively participates in the Communication, Media, and Information Sciences Platform (KNAW). His research resides under the Netherlands Graduate School for Literary Studies, in particular the group pertaining to Analysis of cultural products and the study of their effects. He has been involved in formulating an EU grant application (pending) for StoryNet, European network of scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences examining the nature, structure, processing, and influences of literary and media stories. He is vice-president of the International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature and Media. He frequently participates in other international conferences such as those of the Society for Text and Discourse and the Poetics and Linguistics Association and is active in the International Society for Research on Emotion. Conferences of all these organizations provide important fora for presentations of our project results.

Key publications of the first applicant Note: These publications are in addition to those rendered in the Works Cited list (Appendix). Hakemulder, Jemeljan ed. Immersion in Literature and Media. Amsterdam: Benjamin. In press. ---. Tracing Foregrounding in Responses to Film. Language and Literature 16 (2007): 12539. ---. Forum Theatre: The Effects of Participatory Responses. Research Report, ILO, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2007. ---.Literature: Empirical studies. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Vol. 7. 2nd. ed. Ed. Keith Brown Oxford: Elsevier, 2006. 274-80. Peer, Willie van, Hakemulder, Jemeljan, and Sonia Zyngier. Muses and Measures: Empirical Research Methods for the Humanities. Cambridge: Scholars, 2007.

Key publications of the second applicant Note: These publications are in addition to those rendered in the Works Cited list (Appendix). Tan, Ed S.. Wenn wir uns so gut auf die Kunst des Einfhlens verstehen, praktizieren wir es dann nicht stndig? Einfuehlung. Zur Geschichte und gegenwart eines sthetischen Konzepts. Ed. Robin Curtis. Mnchen: Fink, 2009. 185-210. ---. Three Views of Facial Expression and Its Understanding in the Cinema. Moving Image Theory: Ecological Considerations. Ed. Joseph D. Anderson and Barbara Fisher. Carbondale, Il.: Southern Illinois UP, 2005. 107-27.

18 ---. The Telling Face in Comic Strip and Graphic Novel. The Graphic Novel. Ed. Jan Baetens. Leuven: Leuven UP, 2001. 31-46. ---. Emotion, Art and the Humanities. Handbook of Emotions. 2nd. ed. Ed. Michael Lewis and Jeanette M. Haviland-Jones. New York: Guilford, 2000. 116-136. Tan, Ed S., and Jeroen J. Jansz. The game Experience. Product Experience, Ed. Hendrik Schifferstein and Paul Hekkert. pp. 531-556. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2008. 531-56. Tan, Ed S., and Anja Tollenaar. Aesthetic Communication through Posters. Empirical Studies of the Arts 25.1 (2007): 21-39.

15. Summary for non-specialists Het gevoel je te bevinden in de wereld van een verhaal en te vergeten dat je eigenlijk een boek aan het lezen of een film aan het kijken bent zijn herkenbare ervaringen. Dit fenomeen, absorptie genaamd, heeft als kenmerk dat wij ons niet langer (bovenal) bewust zijn van onszelf en onze omgeving, maar dat wij vooral gericht zijn op wat er in de verhaalwereld plaats vindt. Voorts kan het lijken, voor zolang we lezen of kijken, dat wij naar een andere wereld zijn getransporteerd. De laatste 30 jaar hebben onderzoekers in zowel de geesteswetenschappen als de sociale wetenschappen zich met absorptie en gerelateerde fenomenen beziggehouden. Hun interesses en benaderingswijzen vertonen echter interessante verschillen. Geesteswetenschappers zijn het meest gemoeid met hoe identificatie (inleving) met personages en verhaalstructuren (bijv. een chronologisch gepresenteerde volgorde van gebeurtenissen) een lezer of kijker sturen in hun beleving van de verhaalwereld. Sociale wetenschappers zijn bovenal genteresseerd gebleken in methodologische kwesties inzake hoe lees- en kijkprocessen goed te onderzoeken, alsook de overtuigingskracht van verhalen. Voorts hebben geesteswetenschappers zich vooral op theoretische wijze over transportatie-gerelateerde onderwerpen gebogen, terwijl in sociaal wetenschappelijk onderzoek empirisch onderzoek centraal staat. Dit methodisch verschil blijkt ook uit hoe de twee domeinen zich hebben bezig gehouden met esthetische kwesties, zoals wat een object tot een kunstobject maakt en in hoeverre iets wordt gewaardeerd om de manier waarop het iets presenteert (in plaats van wat het voorstelt). Sociale wetenschappers werken in hun studies voornamelijk met esthetisch oordelen, dat wil zeggen, evaluatieve impressies die reflecteren in hoeverre iets wordt gewaardeerd als, bijvoorbeeld, schoonheid. Geesteswetenschappers denken veelal in termen van esthetische ervaring, hetgeen naast een waarderingscomponent ook andere ervaringskwaliteiten kent zoals een gevoel van harmonie, de sensatie van inspiratie en een speels onderzoeken van een (kunst)werk. De tweedeling in het absorptie-onderzoek heeft bijgedragen aan een grote verscheidenheid aan absorptie gerelateerde conceptenbijvoorbeeld transportatie, immersie, empathie waarvan vooralsnog niet goed is bekeken hoe zij zich, conceptueel en experientieel, tot elkaar


verhouden. Afgezien van een erkennen dat absorptie in verschillende maten van intensiteit kan plaats vinden, is tot nu toe nog nooit onderzocht of dergelijke ervaringen uit verschillende ervaringskwaliteiten kunnen bestaan. Het is echter goed voorstelbaar dat niet elke transporterende ervaring een duidelijke voorstelling van de verhaalwereld betreft, bijvoorbeeld, of de identificatie met een personage, of een vergeten van de materialiteit van het medium. Het doel van ons onderzoeksproject is het in kaart brengen van verschillende soorten ervaringen die een of andere vorm van absorptie betreft. Kritisch en integrerend bezien van bestaand onderzoek voldoet hier overigens niet, ondermeer vanwege de zojuist geschetste hiaten tussen sociaal wetenschappelijk (empirisch) onderzoek en geesteswetenschappelijke studies. Om meer inzicht te krijgen in absorptie ervaringen zoals zij daadwerkelijk worden beleefd is het van belang om uit te vinden wat echte lezers en kijkers doen. Dientengevolge hebben wij een reeks empirische studies ontworpen waarin we participanten vragen een tekst te lezen of een film te kijken. Gedurende en/of na afloop van hun lees- of kijkervaringen wordt hen gevraagd hun belevingen te beschrijven in een interview en/of door het beantwoorden van open en gesloten vragen met pen en papier (of op de computer). Voor onze studies willen wij gebruik maken van zowel adaptaties (boeken waarvan films bestaan en vice versa) als originele en zorgvuldig gemanipuleerde teksten en films (voor de manipulatie van de materialen vragen we ondersteuning van schrijvers en regisseurs uit het veld). Als dusdanig kunnen wij bestuderen hoe bepaalde tekstuele en filmische kenmerken (bijv. een al dan niet overheersende alwetende verteller, opvallende cameratechnieken) absorptie ervaringen beinvloeden, alsmede er verschillen bestaan tussen transporterende ervaringen met tekst en film. Hieraan gerelateerd onderzoeken wij in hoeverre verhaalkenmerken (bijv. duidelijk plot met verschillende gebeurtenissen, het toewerken naar een ontknoping, enige vorm van suspens) zich verhouden tot absorberend beleven van de verhaalwereld. Voorts is een belangrijk onderdeel van ons project het exploreren van interconnecties tussen transporterende en esthetische ervaringen, een onderwerp dat tot nog toe nooit wetenschappelijk is onderzocht. Wij verwachten dat het esthetisch ervaren van een tekst of film een bepaalde manier van getransporteerd zijn in de hand werkt. Ook de nawerkingen van absorptie willen wij in kaart brengen. In dit kader is tot nog toe alleen overtuigingskracht van verhalen die op transporterende wijze zijn gelezen bestudeerd. Tot slot zullen wij ons buigen over de relatie tussen absorptie en computerspelen (en virtuele werkelijkheid), gezien de populariteit van dit mediadomein. Het uiteindelijk doel van ons project is een genuanceerde typologie te ontwikkelen inzake variaties van absorptie in het algemeen en met betrekking tot esthetische ervaringen in het bijzonder. Deze taxonomie zal uiteengezet worden in een monografie geschreven door de projectleider en co-aanvrager. Tussentijdse rapportage van resultaten vindt plaats in de dissertaties van twee promotieonderzoeken en reeks aan wetenschappelijke artikelen aan de hand van de Promovendi en de Postdoc.



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