NARRALINCOG 2023 International Seminar

Narrative, Linguistics, and Cognition:
Interdisciplinary approaches to narrative and storyworld possible selves

May 17-19 • 2023 / University of Alcalá (Madrid)


The “narrative turn” in the social sciences has highlighted the need for specific methods that allow the systematic study of narrative experiencing from interdisciplinary perspectives. NARRALINCOG is an international research project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN, Grant number: PID2020-114255RB-I00), whose aim is to strengthen the theoretical and methodological foundations of Storyworld Possible Selves Theory (Martínez 2014, 2018; Martínez and Herman 2020), and of the framework that it provides for the study of narrative engagement. The present seminar is also co-founded by the Flanders Research Foundation (FWO), through the research project entitled “’This is who I could be’: Storyworld possible selves and fictionality,” led by Professor Luc Herman, and based at the University of Antwerp (Grant number: G013520N).

Storyworld possible selves (SPSs) are defined as ‘imagings of the self in storyworlds’ (Martinez 2014: 119) and are formally conceived as blends resulting from the conceptual integration of two input spaces: the mental representation developed by readers for the focalizing character or narrator, and the mental representation that readers entertain about themselves, or self-concept. SPS theory has been acknowledged in the fields of cognitive literary linguistics and stylistics (Mucha 2016; Harrison 2017; Kardela and Kędra-Kardela 2019; López-Narváez 2021: Stradling 2022), narrative studies (Bruns 2016; Stagherlin 2016; Wake 2016; Herman and Vervaeck 2019; Schneider 2021), narrative engagement and absorption (Oatley 2016; Jakobs and Lüdtke 2017; Quinlan and Mar 2020), digital games research (Dudek 2021), empirical reader research (Björnkén-Nyberg 2018; Kuijpers 2022), and education (Tovey 2022), among others. However, further areas of research are numerous, and include: (a) more profound studies on the nature of narrators and characters as fictional minds, as their character constructs provide structure to one of the inputs in an SPS blend; (b) extensive empirical research on larger numbers of real readers, addressing emotional responses in connection to the projection of relevant storyworld possible selves, since readers’ self-concept networks provide structure to the other input in an SPS blend; (c) the identification of further linguistic mechanisms intervening in the objectification and subjectification of SPS blends in narrative construal operations; (d) the further exploration of non-verbal SPS anchoring mechanisms in multimodal narratives such as TV series, graphic novels, or videogames; and (e) the application of the theory of storyworld possible selves to the study of engagement, persuasion, and manipulation in non-fictional narratives such as the narratives of economics or advertising, or in illness and trauma narratives.

In this seminar we wish to present the ongoing work of NARRALINCOG’s interdisciplinary team, currently looking into narratives from the aforementioned perspectives. The seminar also aims to bring together research using storyworld possible selves theory in approaches to narrative from as many areas of application as possible—narrative theory, literary criticism, linguistics, stylistics, and empirical reader response research, to name just a few—with a focus on all types of narratives: fictional, non-fictional, verbal, digital, transgeneric, or multimodal. The seminar is intended for members of staff and MA/MSc and PhD students with an interest in narrative at large, and, more specifically, in issues connected to narrative engagement, cognitive narratology, cognitive linguistics, cognitive stylistics, narrative psychology, communication studies, and empirical reader response research. Additionally, we also wish to encourage the participation of undergraduate students interested in the cognitive and linguistic study of narrative and literature.

NARRALINCOG 2023 International Seminar

Narrative, Linguistics, and Cognition: Interdisciplinary approaches to narrative and storyworld possible selves 

Registration call for papers


Invited speakers

Organizing committee

Funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain (MICINN) and the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)

Comisión de Extensión y Publicaciones Departamento de Filología Moderna. Universidad de Alcalá