When we talk about socio-narratology, we are referring to a kind of
literature that involves the reader in the fact of reading.
It is because the concept of "socio" implies communication, a feedback
effect in the reader due to the emotions that reader has felt while he was
Narratology is a concept which means something has been written by an
author with an intentionality, which is caused some effect on the reader.
When we put these concepts together, we obtain a kind of literature which
is relatively new (19-20th centuries) and which will be the most developed
in the future because of the good communication between author and reader.
It is a kind of scheme:
writer feelings--->--->--->narration--->--->--->reader feelings
A writer put his feelings on a narration, and these are received by
by means of the fact of reading. These are the same (if the process is
correct) what writer wanted to show.
This situation changes when the story has more than one interpretation and
sometimes the role of reader is more important than the one of the writer.
1.1 FIRST WORKS ABOUT SOCIO-LINGUISTICS
The study of narrative can benefit from a synthesis of theoretical models
developed in different disciplines and research traditions. In particular,
two traditions of narrative analysis exist:
The sociolinguistics approach, inspired by Lavov and Waletzky.
The narratological approach, that originated as an outgrowth of
structuralism in France in the lates 1960's.
In this classical version, narratology was hampered not only by its
excessive reliance on Saussurean theories but also by its failure to
accommodate developments being advanced by anglo- american researchers,
specially in the area of pragmatics, discourse analysis and
1.2 THE LAVOVIAN MODEL
It can gain in descriptive and explanatory adequacy if it is enriched
research tools developed at first under the auspices of narratology.
1.2-a) Distinction between story and discourse
We have here two problematic concepts in the sense that sometimes they
confused because of the similarities.
Their differences are not really obvious, but they are in the sense of the
aim of the speech. It means that you can understand that a story is what
you read with the purpose of spending your free time with maybe only this
aim. You can not do this with a discourse; the main function of a discourse
is communicating something with the purpose of persuading someone of
This can be maybe the most remarkable difference, but it is not very
obvious and it is because they are so confusing concepts.
Another relationship between these two concepts is that you can find a
discourse inside a story for defending an idea and for making it stronger.
It is used for making that an idea could be better understood by the reader
and it makes clearer the purpose of the writer.
1.2-b) Narrative Actants
Actants are a very important point in narrative for reader in order
an interpretation or another of the story he has read.
Sometimes, narrative actants are names for the most basic and general roles
(sender, helper, opponent,...) that can be assumed by participants in the
narrative action; they are construct based on behavioural paradigms stored
as knowledge representations in the memory.
The actants can be identified by reader as abstract actants (those that
represent a virtue or a defect) or concrete actants which can be also
divided into two subgroups:
Good and Bad actants, who always are representing the same role; they do
not change throughout the development of the story. They are called static
actants: their behaviour does not change, they follow a direct line.
Changing actants, whose behaviour changes throughout the story. When
story starts, some are good and after become bad and vice-versa, they
follow an up and down line, depending on the circumstances of the story.
Actants also depend on the interpretation of the writer, because there
actions which can be seen positive by some readers and negative for another
kind of public. It is only possible in changing actants, whose behaviour is
not defined at all.
2. READER RESPONSE
The aim of this paper is analysing the role of the reader in a story. An
important fact for provoking in the reader a positive response is to place
the story in a context which can be familiar with he/she, or if not, make
easy to become familiar with it; it is an important point for the writer in
order to be rightly understood by the reader.
But another thing to consider is if writer wants to focus his/her story to
a specific kind of public or for a general one. It is the reason because
exist so many kinds of literature, such as children literature, feminist
A writer must take into account the reader response before starting to
2.1 READER's AWARENESS OF SPATIAL ENVIRONMENT IN LITERARY TEXT
When you start reading a book, you can find different kinds of "first
page". There are some which start placing the story in time, place,.. by
means of the narrator voice, as for example in contemporary literature,
Ruth Rendell's novels, whose narrations start talking about weather,
season,... It is because narrator is involved in the story and maybe after
he will develop some actions throughout the story.
But you can also find books which start directly with a dialoghe, and it
means that the reader must interpret, by means of the speech of characters,
where the action takes place,...
These two ways of placing the reader in the environment of the story are
found in specific kinds of literature, for example, in children literature,
you must introduce the place and the time because children normally are not
able to interpret where they are or maybe they would find it difficult, so
they need to have a short introduction such as "once upon a time" or
another tipical way of beginning a story.
2.2 COMPARISON OF READER'S RESPONSE TO THE EXTENSIVE CRITICAL LITERATURE
The study of the personal significance readers may have found as they
the story, must be analyzed in the way that it will show us if the fact of
reading has been successful and it will identify the kind of reader we are
Here we have a very problematic area in the sense that nobody can tell a
statement which is valid for everybody, because this area is clearly
Subjectivity is the most important word in an interpretation and also for
analysing the reader's response of a determinated book or story.
Critical literature is absolutely subjective, and it is what makes that,
from one story, you can find different interpretations totally valid but
different at all.
In these cases, you are free to interpret what you want, but you are in
danger of making the wrong interpretation and not discovering the real
intentionality of the writer, but, who can tell us if an interpretation is
right or wrong?
It is what is much difficult to define, because there are some kinds of
literature (police stories) where you are told how you must follow the
development of the plot and nowadays there is a kind of books where you
have to choose what to do and you are conditioned by the circumstances.
Another kinds of books are less defined, where the reader is able to react
in the way he wants to because they are open books.
Open-close books are another factor for having a specific response or not,
and it is one of the characteristics of the fact of reading.
3. NEUROPSYCHOLOGY IN NARRATION
Here we are going to pay attention to some points that influence on
but they are not conscious because it affects the psychology of people;
some of them are:
The multiple uses (and abuses) of fictional scenarios. The neuropsychology
of the pretend play, metacognition, and the imagination is just beginning
to receive serious attention.
The imaginative mind is being placed under the magnifying glass -or
appositely, the functional magnetic resonance imaging machine. Empirical
data, however, acquire meaning only within the context of a theory, and
humanists, as denizens of the imaginary would do well to participate in the
elaboration of a theoretical framework that does justice to the complexity
of the issues at hand.
In such an elaboration, the rich and subtle phenomenology of literary works
can be of particular interest, for instance in providing a publicly
available and psychologically powerful record of the intimate operations of
an individual mind. This is not suggest necesarilly veridical; however,
distortions and deceptions can be equally informative. Such a cognitive
reading of literature does not fit neatly into the disciplinary traditions
of either literary criticism or cognitive science, yet the best work shows
that both fields can benefit. A close proprioceptive reading in the light
of neuroscience will often get you closer to elucidating the dynamics of
your subjective experience of the literature (how it works on you) than is
possible within the cultural studies approach.
The successful unfolding of the imagination is only possible when
accompanied by adequate systems of source monitoring (the capacity to
distinguish between what originates in perception and what is the response
3.1 SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF THE MIND
"Cognitive science" or "the cognitive neurosciences" have largely
abbandoned the Saussurean and Freudian approaches to language and mind that
still set the terms for most literary theory (however dated within the
disciplines from which they are originally borrowed.
An entire new set of frameworks and paradigms, inspired by advances in
neurobiology and computer science, has proliferated in their stead, and the
cognitive neurosciences have emerged as most exciting and rapidly
interdisciplinary venture of our era.
We have to point out the work of Mark Turner, whose contribution was a
detailed study or the workings of kiship metaphors in literary texts,
asserting an important role for the literary critic as connoisseur of trope
and text, in the "science of the mind".
4. CONCRETE EXAMPLES OF DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS
4.1_ Frankenstain (M. Shelley)
According to the novelist's introduction to her work, dwelt on phylosophy
and nature, on the origins and meaning of life, on the myth of Prometeus,
and on the enterprise of modern science. Frankenstain is more than simply a
recall of her "thrall of fear".
It is also a study of the consequences of experiment and of moving into the
unknown. It is also an imaginative expiation of the principle of liberty
and human rights so clear to the novelist's parentsl.
4.2_ Wuthering Heights (E. Bronte)
She plays with shifts of time and perception by balancing the
complementary, but not really concordant, viewpoints of two major and five
It juxtaposes two different worlds. Only in the title, we have a message:
"so completely removed from the stir society"; it is subject to "pure,
bracing, ventilation". Nature and phenomena within and beyond nature,
remain "wuthering" and turbulent throughout the narrative.
4.3_ Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (L. Carroll)
In his books, paradox finds resolution once there has been assent to the
idea of an ultimate order in which the finding of science, philosophy and
religion are not in conflict.
The protagonist is a child insistent on the rightness of the values of
middle class society and of the elementary education that she takes with
her into landscapes which warp, overturn, and subvert ordinary perception.
Her self confidence gives her a mental clarity which can counter the
universe periodically threatens to explode or disolve around her.
Alice wakes from her dreams, or crosses back through the looking-glass into
what child readers are led to assume is an emotionally, physically and
intellectually secure world.
-Forthcoming in narratologies: New perspectives on Narrative analysis,
David Herman, Ohio State, UP, 1998.
-Update on Reader Response research, by David Miall
-Stories of the mind: Narrative and contemporary theories of Consciousness:
narrative and evolution of intelligence by Porter Abbott, UC, Santa Barbara
-Brains Minds and Texts, a review of Mark Turner's The literary Mind,
Alan Richardson, New York: OUP, 1996
-The Short Oxford History of English literature, by Andrew Sanders,
Clarendon Press, 1994