Berenike Herrmann

Berenike Herrmann

Berenike Herrmann
Germany
jb.herrmann@phil.uni-goettingen.de
WG Member – WG3
Position Paper

In my research program, the digitization of literary artefacts and readers’ engagement with them plays a crucial role. My research is situated at the interface of literary text processing and digital humanities. I have two main topics of interest that in my opinion can be very neatly related to WG3 (“Experiential and emotional aspects of reading”).

These are (1) “style” and (2) “empathy”.
(1) My digital-stylistic research assesses the formal textual features of literary texts as well as readers’ actual processing behavior when engaging with selected stylistic features (such as modal particles, narrative perspective, and sentence length and complexity) across different authors, genres, and epochs. The applied methods are quantitative stylistic (NLP, MD-analysis, topic modeling) and psychological measures (such as questionnaires, reading time, and eye-tracking, and psycho-physiological methods), as well as literary close reading. This line of research is relevant to WG3 in two ways: Firstly, as basic research that investigates the textual and behavioral dimensions of literary style and therefore can be used as a baseline for studies of ereading; Secondly, as research that directly assesses textual and behavioral dimensions of e-reading, investigating the formal features of “born-digital” or digitally adapted editions of literary texts as well as readers’ associated processing behavior.

(2) With regard to empathy, I am interested in gauging social-psychological and emotional effects of reading literary texts across (analog/digital) modalities in readers of different age groups. Specifically, I assess how specific textual features (such as use of spatial prepositions, meta-cognitive commentary, “Leerstellen”, and narrative perspective) may foster reader’s abilities of perspective taking, Theory of Mind, and empathetic concern. Applied methods are social psychological questionnaires and online measures as well as quantitative and qualitative text analytical methods. The direct relevance to WG3 again consists in basic research as a baseline, as well as in the direct assessment of the medium of presentation (analog/digital) as a contributing factor to expected effects.

Finally, in this line of research, one special interest of mine lies in developing research methodologies and research designs that combine quantitative and qualitative methods tailored to the digital analysis of literary texts that are intertwined with studies of readers’
attention to stylistics features (eye-tracking, questionnaires) previously extracted at the text level. In sum, my research dealing with the textual basis and socio-cognitive dimensions of literature may very well inform the research planned on digital interface features on emotional and experiential aspects of literary reading.

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