Prof. Dr.

Jan Alber

Professor of English Literature and Cognitive Studies


Jan Alber is Professor of English Literature and Cognitive Studies at RWTH Aachen University (Germany) and Past President of the International Society for the Study of Narrative (ISSN). He is the author of Narrating the Prison (Cambria Press, 2007) and Unnatural Narrative: Impossible Worlds in Fiction and Drama (University of Nebraska Press, 2016). Alber received fellowships and research grants from the British Academy, the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the Humboldt Foundation. In 2013, the German Association of University Teachers of English awarded him the prize for the best Habilitation written between 2011 and 2013. From 2014 to 2016, he worked as Marie-Curie Fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark.


Phone: +49 241 80 96101
Fax Fax: +49 241 80 92656


  • Alber, Jan, and Peter Wenzel (eds.) Introduction to Cognitive Narratology. Trier: WVT, work in progress.
  • Alber, Jan. "Literature as Identity Laboratory: Storyworld Possible Selves and Boundary Expansions." The Value of Literature, edited by Ansgar Nünning, and Vera Nünning. Tübingen: Narr, 2021, pp. 19-31.
  • Alber, Jan, Caroline Kutsch, and Sven Strasen. "Empirical Methods in Literary Studies." Methods of Textual Analysis in Literary Studies: Approaches, Basics, Model Interpretations, edited by Vera Nünning, and Ansgar Nünning. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2021, pp. 273-96.
  • Alber, Jan, Jessica Jumpertz, and Axel Mayer. "How Professional Readers Process Unnatural Narrators: An Empirical Perspective." Scientific Study of Literature, vol. 10, no. 2, 2020, pp. 193-214.
  • Alber, Jan, and Sven Strasen (eds.). Focus on Empirical Approaches to Narrative, special issue of Anglistik, vol. 31, no. 1, 2020.
  • Alber, Jan, Marco Caracciolo, Stefan Iversen, Karin Kukkonen, and Henrik Skov Nielsen. "Introduction: Unnatural and Cognitive Perspectives on Narrative (A Theory Crossover)." Poetics Today, vol. 39, no. 3, 2018, pp. 429-45. 
  • Alber, Jan, Marco Caracciolo, and Irina Marchesini. "Mimesis: The Unnatural between Situation Models and Interpretive Strategies." Poetics Today, vol. 39, no. 3, 2018, pp. 447-71. 
  • Alber, Jan. "Rhetorical Ways of Covering Up Speculations and Hypotheses, or Why Empirical Investigations of Real Readers Matter." Style, vol. 51, no. 1-2, 2018, pp. 34-39.
  • Alber, Jan. "Logical Contradictions, Possible Worlds Theory, and the Embodied Mind." Possible Worlds Theory and Contemporary Narratology, edited by Alice Bell, and Marie-Laure Ryan. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2018, pp. 157-76.
  • Alber, Jan. "Gaping before Monumental Unnatural Inscriptions? The Necessity of a Cognitive Approach." Style, vol. 50, no. 4, 2016, pp. 434-41.
  • Alber, Jan. Unnatural Narrative: Impossible Worlds in Fiction and Drama. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016.
  • Alber, Jan. "The Social Minds in Factual and Fictional We-Narratives of the Twentieth Century." Narrative, vol. 23, no. 2, 2015, pp. 212-25.
  • Alber, Jan. "Unnatural Narrative Theory: The Systematic Study of Anti-Mimeticism." Literature Compass, vol. 10, no. 5, 2013, pp. 449-60.
  • Alber, Jan. "'Natural' Narratology." Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory, edited by David Herman, Manfred Jahn, and Marie-Laure Ryan. London: Routledge, 2005, pp. 394-5.
  • Alber, Jan. "The 'Moreness' or 'Lessness' of 'Natural' Narratology: Samuel Beckett's "Lessness" Reconsidered." Style, vol. 36, no. 1, 2002, pp. 54-75; reprinted in Short Story Criticism, vol. 74, 2004, pp. 113-24.

Lectures and Presentations

  • Alber, Jan. "Literature as Identity Laboratory: Storyworld Possible Selves and Boundary Expansions." The Value of Literature, Schloss Rauischholzhausen (Gießen, Germany), June 20-22, 2019.
  • Alber, Jan. "Towards an Empirical Narratology." Narrative, Pamplona (Spain), May 30-June 1, 2019.  
  • Alber, Jan. "The Wor(l)ds in Climate Change Fiction: Immersive and Political Effects." Keynote at the International Association of Literary Semantics Conference in Reykjavík (Iceland), April 14-18, 2019.
  • Alber, Jan. "How Actual Readers Process Unnatural Narratives." MLA, Chicago (USA), January 3-6, 2019.
  • Alber, Jan. "Narrative and Cognition." Keynote at the LACE Winter School in Tartu (Estonia), January 22-26, 2018.
  • Alber, Jan and Judith Eckenhoff. "Absorption and the Belief in Behavioral Consequences: How Climate Fiction Impacts on Actual Readers." Empirical Ecocriticism, Rachel Carson Center, Munich, December 14-15, 2018.
  • Alber, Jan. "The Process of Narrativization and the Concept of the Storyworld." University of Antwerp (Belgium), December 14, 2017.
  • Alber, Jan. "A Cognitive Approach to Narrative Immersion in Film." Inaugural Lecture, Aachen Colloquium on Literature, Emotions, and Cognition. RWTH Aachen University (Germany), May 8, 2017.


  • Prize for the best Habilitation in English Studies between March 2011 and March 2013 (awarded by the Association of German University Teachers of English, September 2013).