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Reading and analysing short story collections : an empirical study of readers’ interpretation process of Benni’s Il bar sotto il mare

Edward De Vooght (UGent) and Guylian Nemegeer (UGent)
(2021) LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE. 30(4). p.361-380
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Abstract
This article confronts the theoretical tenets of reader-oriented short story collection theory and its implications for a literary analysis of Benni’s Il bar sotto il mare (1987) with the results of an empirical study of 12 readers. Through free recall tasks and open questions, we collected their recall of stories, specific passages, recurring topics and general interpretation to assess the processes of reticulation (i.e. searching for recurring elements in stories) and modification (i.e. modifying initial hypotheses based on the identification of new elements) advanced by Audet (2014). This confrontation revealed noticeably disagreeing results. Our findings suggest that flesh-and-blood readers adopt a more straightforward and intuitive approach when reading and interpreting collections as they are subject to a strong primacy effect, privilege personal appreciation of specific stories and passages, and rely on a disinclination to alter initial interpretative hypotheses. The findings pave the way for further investigation into the readers of SSCs.
Keywords
short story collection theory, reception studies, empirical literary studies, reader behaviour

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MLA
De Vooght, Edward, and Guylian Nemegeer. “Reading and Analysing Short Story Collections : An Empirical Study of Readers’ Interpretation Process of Benni’s Il Bar Sotto Il Mare.” LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE, vol. 30, no. 4, 2021, pp. 361–80, doi:10.1177/09639470211047817.
APA
De Vooght, E., & Nemegeer, G. (2021). Reading and analysing short story collections : an empirical study of readers’ interpretation process of Benni’s Il bar sotto il mare. LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE, 30(4), 361–380. https://doi.org/10.1177/09639470211047817
Chicago author-date
De Vooght, Edward, and Guylian Nemegeer. 2021. “Reading and Analysing Short Story Collections : An Empirical Study of Readers’ Interpretation Process of Benni’s Il Bar Sotto Il Mare.” LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 30 (4): 361–80. https://doi.org/10.1177/09639470211047817.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
De Vooght, Edward, and Guylian Nemegeer. 2021. “Reading and Analysing Short Story Collections : An Empirical Study of Readers’ Interpretation Process of Benni’s Il Bar Sotto Il Mare.” LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 30 (4): 361–380. doi:10.1177/09639470211047817.
Vancouver
1.
De Vooght E, Nemegeer G. Reading and analysing short story collections : an empirical study of readers’ interpretation process of Benni’s Il bar sotto il mare. LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE. 2021;30(4):361–80.
IEEE
[1]
E. De Vooght and G. Nemegeer, “Reading and analysing short story collections : an empirical study of readers’ interpretation process of Benni’s Il bar sotto il mare,” LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 361–380, 2021.
@article{8721861,
  abstract     = {{This article confronts the theoretical tenets of reader-oriented short story collection theory and its implications for a literary analysis of Benni’s Il bar sotto il mare (1987) with the results of an empirical study of 12 readers. Through free recall tasks and open questions, we collected their recall of stories, specific passages, recurring topics and general interpretation to assess the processes of reticulation (i.e. searching for recurring elements in stories) and modification (i.e. modifying initial hypotheses based on the identification of new elements) advanced by Audet (2014). This confrontation revealed noticeably disagreeing results. Our findings suggest that flesh-and-blood readers adopt a more straightforward and intuitive approach when reading and interpreting collections as they are subject to a strong primacy effect, privilege personal appreciation of specific stories and passages, and rely on a disinclination to alter initial interpretative hypotheses. The findings pave the way for further investigation into the readers of SSCs.}},
  author       = {{De Vooght, Edward and Nemegeer, Guylian}},
  issn         = {{0963-9470}},
  journal      = {{LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE}},
  keywords     = {{short story collection theory,reception studies,empirical literary studies,reader behaviour}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{4}},
  pages        = {{361--380}},
  title        = {{Reading and analysing short story collections : an empirical study of readers’ interpretation process of Benni’s Il bar sotto il mare}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1177/09639470211047817}},
  volume       = {{30}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}

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