Tag Archives: Research

Psychological and Sociological Methodology Determines what Literature is

“Studying literature is not as simple as just reading words on a page.”

Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki “used psychological and sociological methodologies to determine what literature was. He devised a mathematical formula as a theoretical answer: “F + f = literature.”

“F” refers to the impressions or ideas at the focal point of consciousness and “f” signifies emotions attending to those impressions or ideas.

Different readers interact with texts differently based on sociological and psychological factors […] ’F+f’ is not about books, but something that happens in the mind of the reader.”

Soseki argued his formula is a way to define world literature for all cultures and times.

“If you get the feeling of ‘F+f’, then you’re in the realm of literature”.

From and More:  valleyvanguardonline.com/?p=6137

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Does Fiction Open Closed Minds?

“One question tackled in this study is whether reading nonfictional texts such as essays has effects on belief processing that are different from those of reading fictional texts such as short stories. In both cases, a reader tries to understand another’s thinking (and feeling). The difference, though, is that in nonfiction there is a clear delineation between the author’s and the reader’s opinions, such that the reader is either persuaded or not by the author’s arguments and stances. With nonfiction, changing or not changing the content of one’s belief system is still bound by permanence and, in at least some cases, by urgency, because one’s opinion, once settled upon, can have implications for decision making. The content of one’s belief system may change, but meta-cognitive processes may be unaffected. With fiction it was hypothesized that there may be greater flexibility of a meta-cognitive kind. It was previously found that whether a text was nonfiction or fiction made no difference to whether changes occurred in participants’ self perceived personality when they read the text; only the text’s artistic level affected personality (Djikic, Oatley & Carland, 2012). In this article, there is a different, meta-cognitive question in relation to beliefs. Is fiction, specifically, able to open closed minds?”

From, and read more: tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10400419.2013.783735#/doi/full/10.1080/10400419.2013.783735

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Creativity a Byproduct of Mental Disorder?

“intelligence doesn’t have much effect on creativity: most creative people are pretty smart, but they don’t have to be that smart […] But if high IQ does not indicate creative genius, then what does? […]

What differences in nature and nurture can explain why some people suffer from mental illness and some do not? And why are so many of the world’s most creative minds among the most afflicted? […]

As research methodology improved over time, the idea that genius might be hereditary gained support. […]

For many of my subjects from that first study—all writers associated with the Iowa Writers’ Workshop—mental illness and creativity went hand in hand. This link is not surprising. The archetype of the mad genius dates back to at least classical times, when Aristotle noted, “Those who have been eminent in philosophy, politics, poetry, and the arts have all had tendencies toward melancholia. […]

Among those who ended up losing their battles with mental illness through suicide are Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Vincent van Gogh, John Berryman, Hart Crane, Mark Rothko, Diane Arbus, Anne Sexton, and Arshile Gorky. […]

The creative […] and their relatives have a higher rate of mental illness than the controls and their relatives do. […] 

Why does creativity run in families? What is it that gets transmitted? How much is due to nature and how much to nurture? Are writers especially prone to mood disorders because writing is an inherently lonely and introspective activity? What would I find if I studied a group of scientists instead?”

And the answer is: theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/06/secrets-of-the-creative-brain/372299/

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Benefits of Early Reading

“Children whose homes are filled with books don’t just have the fun of being read to. They also enjoy the benefits years later.

A study has found that if just ten children’s books are to hand when a child is four, a part of their brain involved in language and thought matures more quickly by the age of 18 or 19.

However, if introduced at the age of eight, these books … seem to have little impact on the brain, suggesting the age of four is a critical time in its development.

The research has excited scientists because it the first to show how small differences in a normal upbringing affect the brain.”

More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217722/Reading-How-books-age-helps-boost-brain-Reading-young-age-helps-organ-mature-quicker-later-life.html

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Inherited Creativity

So you want to write a novel? You must be born with it:

“Researchers from Yale in the US and Moscow State University in Russia launched the study to see whether there was a scientific reason why well-known writers have produced other writers. …

“This work is unique in its objective to investigate the familiality and heritability of the trait of creative writing,” the researchers write, “while controlling for general cognitive ability and for the general level of family functioning. Despite the lack of systematic research on the aetiology of writing in general and creative writing in particular, it is rather difficult not to acknowledge the familiality of creativity in writing, given the families of writers who have entertained and educated us over the years. These findings constitute the tip of an interesting iceberg, indicating that there may be some components of creative writing that are familial and heritable.

“It may be worth further studies to confirm that creative writers are indeed born, as well as made. When writers capitalise on these inborn propensities and expose these propensities to rich experiences, we, as readers, can enjoy books that not only form the foundation of cultural life but also impact the biology of the human brain.”

More: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/want-to-be-a-writer-have-a-literary-parent-8200777.html

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Is reading books different from listening to audio books?

“37 percent of people say they’ve listened to an audio book, and the medium continues to become an important substitute for old-fashioned reading.

[…] research that predates CDs suggests that reading and listening are strikingly similar cognitive processes. For example, 1985 study found listening comprehension correlated strongly with reading comprehension – suggesting that those who read books well would listen to them well, also. In a 1977 study, college students who listened to a short story were able to summarize it with equal accuracy as those who read it.

“The way this is usually interpreted is that once you are good at decoding letters into sound, which most of us are by the time we’re in 5th or 6th grade, the comprehension is the same whether it’s spoken or written,” explained University of Virginia psychology professor Dan Willingham.

What’s more, Willingham says there isn’t much individual variance in the way people absorb information (it’s an idea he touched on during a recent NPR interview, which debunked the myth of so-called “learning styles.”) Those who prefer one medium or the other simply like the feel of a physical book or the spoken kind.”

From: http://www.forbes.com/sites/olgakhazan/2011/09/12/is-listening-to-audio-books-really-the-same-as-reading/

What’s the bloody point in reading books?

What’s the point in reading? “What good are novels, poetry, and other types of imaginative literature—except perhaps as escapes from our present miseries?” […]

What literature offers us then are alternate visions of life. […]

Literature can help us appreciate more the beauty and goodness that are there for the seeing, if only we train our eyes to see. […]

At a time when the United States and the world generally seems as confused, intolerant, and without answers as ever, any steps forward out of our Babel-like existence toward more mutual understanding are to be welcomed.  Moreover, Matthew Arnold was correct, culture (in the sense of higher learning), especially literature, can be a “great help out of our present difficulties.”  It can help us see that the inane ads that constantly urge us to purchase more and pursue a false “American Dream,” as well as much of our mass-media culture that is driven by the profit motive, are dead ends.  Concern about culture is not a frivolous matter in our troubled world.  In an interview printed in 1977 Ralph Ellison, who did much to enlighten us on race relations, said, “While others worry about racial superiority, let us be concerned with the quality of culture.”  First-rate literature can stretch our minds and our sympathies and bring us closer to experiencing the beauty, goodness, and truth that humanity’s best minds have always sought.

If concern about culture is not something that propels us to read, we can always look at reading from a more pragmatic point of view, to find the “clear link between reading for pleasure and gaining a good job”:

“The research, by Mark Taylor of Nuffield College, Oxford University, analysed the responses of 17,200 people born in 1970 who gave details of their extra-curricular activities at age 16, and their jobs at age 33.

The findings show that 16-year-olds who read a book at least once a month were “significantly” more likely to be in a professional or managerial position at the age of 33 than those who did not read.

For girls, there was a 39% probability that they would be in a professional or managerial position at 33 if they read at 16, compared to a 25% chance if they had not.

Amongst boys, there was a 58% chance of being in a good job at 33 if they had read as a teenager, compared to a 48% chance if they had not.

The research also looked at after-school activities including sports, socialising, going to the cinema, concerts or museums, cooking and sewing, but found that none of these had an impact on careers.”

Judge a person by the book they read?

“Books are the new snobbery, according to a survey today. Social competitiveness about which titles we read has become one of the new mass forces of the era and only middle-aged people are relatively free of it.

Driven partly by pressure from incessant literary prize shortlists, more than one in three consumers in London and the south-east admit having bought a book “solely to look intelligent”, the YouGov survey says.

It finds one in every eight young people confessing to choosing a book “simply to be seen with the latest shortlisted title”. This herd instinct dwindles to affect only one in 20 over-50 year-olds.” SOURCE

and

“One in three Londoners surveyed by research organisation YouGov admit having bought a book “solely to look intelligent”. Younger people were most likely to succumb to the urge to buy literary prize-winners simply to be seen to own them. Once middle age hits, a certain “who cares” attitude comes to the fore, the survey found. By 50, most people are fine with perching their polyester-clad butts on the bus stop bench and reading Dan Brown.

Hard as it is to admit to such snobbery, I challenge any book-lover not to sneak a peek at any book they spot being read in public, and then judge – yes, judge – the reader on that basis. Recently, there was a young woman in the gym reading a slim tome in French. I practically fell off the stationary bicycle trying to peer at the jacket, to no avail – she could have been reading Mills & Boon. But I was impressed. Hey, it’s French.

Why the snobbery? Why can’t you enjoy Harry Potter and War and Peace?” SOURCE