Chloe Harrison: "Re-Constructing Atmosphere, Tone and Perspective in Narrative Fiction"

Monday, October 28, 2019, 6:30pm

This is the first talk of the lecture series.

This talk will take place in lecture hall H09 in C.A.R.L. (Claßenstraße 11).

Re-construing atmosphere, tone and perspective in narrative fiction

Dr Chloe Harrison


This paper presents two studies which explore how texts are re-construed on multiple readings. As the basis of the discussion, Margaret Atwood’s (2014) contemporary Gothic tale ‘The Freeze-Dried Groom’ is considered as an example of a narrative that generates different experiences of the fictional world on a first and second reading.

The first study (see Harrison and Nuttall 2019) outlines an account of reader processing offered by Cognitive Grammar (Langacker 2008) and illustrates its use as a framework for discussing readers’ experiences of re-reading. In particular, this analysis considers the re-construal of ‘tone’ and ‘atmosphere’ (Stockwell 2014) in the text; the changing conceptualisation of the story’s characters and the shifting prominence of aspects of the fictional world.

The second study explores how readers’ understanding of narrative perspective changes across first and second readings. Building on reader response research by Millis (1995) and Bray (2007), the analysis considers responses from a classroom activity carried out by undergraduate BA English students of stylistics at two UK universities. The analysis suggests that re-reading a text facilitates a re-evaluation of perspective, or recognition of alternative points of view or voices, within the fictional world.



Atwood, M. (2014) The Freeze-Dried Groom. In Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales, 135–165. London: Virago, Bloomsbury.

Bray, J. (2007) The ‘dual voice’ of free indirect discourse: A reading experiment. Language and Literature 16(1): 37–52.

Harrison, C. and Nuttall, L. (2019) ‘Cognitive Grammar and reconstrual: Re-experiencing Margaret Atwood's 'The Freeze-Dried Groom'. In B. Neurohr and E. Stewart-Shaw (eds). Experiencing Fictional Worlds, 135–154. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Langacker, R. (2008) Cognitive Grammar: A Basic Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Millis, K. K. (1995) Encoding discourse perspective during the reading of a literary text. Poetics 23(3): 235–253.

Stockwell, P. (2014) Atmosphere and tone. In The Cambridge Handbook of Stylistics, P. Stockwell and S. Whiteley (eds.), 360–375. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.