Empirical Work

We are focussing on the following four areas in our empirical work:

  1. Second-person narration
    We are testing the way that readers respond to ‘you’ in digital fiction. We will investigate whether different forms of this kind of narration affect the relationship between the reader of digital fiction and the fictional world that it describes.
  2. Multimodality
    We aim to understand how readers process multimodal aspects of digital fiction, that is, the combination of different modes such as sound, images, and text.
  3. Immersion
    We are interested in how immersion works in digital fiction and, crucially, how readers conceptualise immersion.
  4. Hyperlinks
    We are testing the relationship between what readers expect to find and what they do find when following hyperlinks in a digital fiction. In an informational hypertext, hyperlinks are usually used to point clearly to their destination. In some digital fictions, however, hyperlinks don’t necessarily do that. They might, for example, be used to make more figural associations between the hyperlink and the text to which it leads.

Using a range of data collection strategies including group discussion, think-aloud protocols, and one-to-one interviews, reader response data will be gathered from participants and incorporated into the researchers’ analyses. The result will be a more robust and, crucially, empirically based understanding of how readers process particular features of particular digital fictions. This part of the project will also inform wider cognitive-poetic and cognitive-narratological theories of literature which aim to understand how readers process literary texts.

Non technical results from our studies are available here.

If you are interested in being involved in our empirical work or would like to know more about it, please contact us. We are keen to hear from individual readers and also reading groups.


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