Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Welcome to the University of Nottingham. I’m Peter Stockwell, Professor of Literary Linguistics in the School of English. In everyday life, sadly, we don’t have telepathy. We don’t have a voice in our heads telling us what other people think and feel and see. In literary fiction, though, sometimes it is as if we have this ability. We know what fictional characters think and feel and believe. Sometimes this relationship gets so rich that it’s almost real. We get upset with people, we dislike them, they make us cry, they make us laugh. Sometimes the loss of them makes us grieve. It’s as if they take on a life of their own. It’s almost as if they’re as real as real people.
Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds How can this be? Fictional minds and real minds and your mind are not so different. We deal with all people in more or less the same way, and that includes ourselves, and it includes fictional minds, and it even includes animal minds and the way we deal with inanimate objects. Do you talk to your cat or your dog? Have you ever shouted at your car or your computer? Do you talk to yourself? We’re going to discover how all this works. We’ll use our current best knowledge of language and mind to explain how we make characters real and how we are immersed, absorbed into literary worlds.
Skip to 1 minute and 44 seconds We’ll discover that a little knowledge about cognition and about linguistics can take us a long way, and we’ll understand a little more fully how to read fiction, how to read people, including ourselves, and, really, how to read a mind.