Narrative Comprehension: A Discourse Perspective


Despite the current explosion of interest in cognitive linguistics, there has so far been relatively little research by cognitive linguists on narrative comprehension. Catherine Emmott draws on insights from discourse analysis and artificial intelligence to present a detailed model of how readers build, maintain, and use mental representations of fictional contexts, and how they keep track of characters and contexts within a complex, changing fictional world. The book begins with a summary of current issues in text-processing theory and a discussion of the methodological importance of recognizing the hierarchical structure of discourse. The core of the book explores the significance of contextual monitoring in narrative comprehension and looks particularly at the cognitive demands placed on readers by flashbacks. Later chapters examine the implications of contextual monitoring for reference theory and for a literary-linguistic model of narrative text types. The study focuses on anaphoric pronouns in narratives, assessing the accumulated knowledge required for readers to interpret these key grammatical items. The work has implications for linguistic theory since it questions several long-held assumptions about anaphora, arguing for a `levels of consciousness' model for the processing of referring expressions.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Oxford, England
Publication year:
  • 1999


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