Olivia Da Costa Fialho: Transformative Reading - Changing Insights into Self and Other

Monday, November 25, 2019, 6:30pm

Olivia Da Costa Fialho Copyright: © Deborah de Muijnck

This is the fifth talk of the lecture series.

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


We say that literature can change our lives. But is this statement supported by scientific evidence? This lecture will present recent work that shows that reading literature does change insights into ourselves and into others in a process called "transformative reading" (TR). A ‘rich description’ of TR will be shown in which its nature and structure are articulated in a series of empirical studies. Study 1 (N=30) aims to gain access to how readers describe their subjective experiences of TR and explores the moments in which changes in self and self-and-other constructs occur. Thirty thematic semi-structured in-depth interviews have been conducted with native speakers of English. As a result, a typology of TR shows different forms of enacting the text. Studies 2 (N=401) and 3 (N=400) aim to (1) articulate the underlying dimensions of TR and (2) to find out the relationship among them. Results indicate that (1) self-other insight can be predicted by (2) enactment-imagery, (3) the extent to which the story events resonate with personal experiences and (4) to which the participants feel sympathetic toward the characters. Independent of demographic variables, these findings demonstrate the contribution of phenomenological studies of reading to the design of explanatory models. In addition, they have enabled the design of an educational programme for young adult students, which brings empirical research on the effects of reading to bear on how these students are guided in their insights into fictional and real selves.