Literature shapes our thoughts and feelings. But how do signs on a page have an effect on our minds? And why does fiction sometimes feel more real than the world around us? Members from the Literature, Cognition and Emotions group discuss their research with Karin Kukkonen.
Podcast production: Vera Syrovatskaya. Sound engineer: Joakim Magnus Taraldsen (USIT). Original jingle composition: Jonas Meyer.
6. Rolf Reber: Literature and the Artful Mind
Rolf Reber, Professor in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Oslo, speaks to Karin Kukkonen about reading and emotional engagement, and the ways in which readers find pleasure in literature through “critical feeling.” Listen as Rolf Reber describes how “the artful mind” appreciates literature on multiple levels, and why knowledge about a book’s composition and the time and place when it was written can make reading more enjoyable. They also discuss whether stories need to be true in order to affect readers emotionally and what psychology can learn from literature about emotions.
The reading recommendation from Rolf Reber:
Adalbert Stifter, Indian Summer (external link). Translated from German by Wendell Frye.
Rolf Reber, Critical Feeling: How to use Feelings Strategically (external link)
5. Stephan Guth: The Literature of the Middle East
Stephan Guth, Professor of Middle East Studies, talks to Karin Kukkonen about the Arab novel in the context of social and political reform in Middle East countries. He explains how reading novels could “teach” people how to feel in modern society, why historical romance novels were considered useful entertainment in the 19th century, and discusses the function of emotional storytelling in the Middle East’s confrontation with Europe.
The reading recommendation from Stephan Guth:
Jurji Zaydan, 1914. Tree of Pearls, Queen of Egypt (external link). Translated by Samah Selim.
Tayeb Salih, 1966. Season of Migration to the North (external link). Translated by Denys Johnson Davies.
Stephan Guth is editor of Literary Visions of the Middle East.
4. Stijn Vervaet: Cultural Memory in Balkan Literature
Stijn Vervaet is Associate Professor in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and Balkan Studies at the University of Oslo. In this episode, he joins Karin Kukkonen in a conversation about constructions of cultural memory and visions of the past in the Balkan literary tradition. They talk about witnessing, counter-memory, testimony and survival accounts, and discuss how authors make use of the imaginative and symbolic dimensions of literature in order to reconstruct alternative narratives of the past.
The reading recommendation from Stijn Vervaet:
Danilo Kiš, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich. Norwegian translation: Et gravmæle for Boris Davidovitsj (external link).
Daša Drndić, Trieste. Translation: Trieste - dokumentarisk roman (external link)
Stijn Vervaet’s book Holocaust, War and Transnational Memory (external link) examines Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav Holocaust fiction in its intersections with other memories of extreme violence, such as the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.
3. Beate Seibt: Kama Muta or The Feeling of Being Moved
We often express the feeling of ‘being moved’ in everyday language – but what does it mean? Beate Seibt, Professor in Social Psychology at The University of Oslo, has developed a scientific framework for the study of ‘kama muta’ or, the experience of being moved. In a conversation with Karin Kukkonen, she discusses how kama muta relates to both literature and our everyday lives. Can social media make us feel closer to others, and are we really ‘moved’ by cat videos? Why does reading fiction evoke such strong emotions?
The reading recommendation from Beate Seibt:
Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby (external link)
2. Halvor Eifring: The Power of the Wandering Mind
Halvor Eifring, Professor of Chinese studies at the University of Oslo, joins Karin Kukkonen in a conversation about what mind-wandering and non-directive meditation have in common with literary reading. Learn more about the meditative dimension of long Chinese novels, and find out how to resist «weapons of mass distraction» in the modern world.
The reading recommendation from Halvor Eifring:
Cao Xueqin and Gao E,The Story of the Stone (external link)
Learn more about Nondirective Meditation and mind wandering in Halvor Eifring's book: The Power of the Wandering Mind (external link).
1. Reiko Abe Auestad: Emotions and Affect in Japanese Literature
Does one feel differently in Japanese novels? When Western novels came to Japan, they brought with them new ways for telling about the self and new models of feeling. Reiko Abe Auestad, Professor of Japanese Studies, talks to Karin Kukkonen about this culture clash of emotions and affect.
Natsume Soseki, Kokoro (trans. Ika Kaminka). Solum Bokvennen, 2004.
Natsume Soseki, The Three-Cornered World (trans. Alan Turney). Peter Owen Publishers, 2011.
Shikibu Murasaki, The Tale of Genji (trans. Dennis Washburn). Norton, 2015.
Kaori Ekuni, Twinkle, Twinkle (trans. Emi Shimokawa). Vertical Inc., 2003
Ryunosuke Akutagawa, "In a Bamboo Grove," in Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (trans. Jay Rubin). Penguin Books, 2009.
Haruki Murakami, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (trans. Jay Rubin). SD Books, 2012.
Kawakami Mieko, Pupper og Egg (trans. Magne Tørring). Solum Bokvennen, 2013.
Reiko Abe Auestad, "The Affect that Disorients Kokoro". U of Hawai'i P, 2019.