Mental simulation during literary reading
Mak, M., & Willems, R. M.
Mental simulation during literary reading. In D. Kuiken, & A. M. Jacobs (Eds.
), Handbook of empirical literary studies
(pp. 63-84). Berlin: De Gruyter.
Readers experience a number of sensations during reading. They do
not – or do not only – process words and sentences in a detached, abstract
manner. Instead they “perceive” what they read about. They see descriptions of
scenery, feel what characters feel, and hear the sounds in a story. These sensa-
tions tend to be grouped under the umbrella terms “mental simulation” and
“mental imagery.” This chapter provides an overview of empirical research on
the role of mental simulation during literary reading. Our chapter also discusses
what mental simulation is and how it relates to mental imagery. Moreover, it
explores how mental simulation plays a role in leading models of literary read-
ing and investigates under what circumstances mental simulation occurs dur-
ing literature reading. Finally, the effect of mental simulation on the literary
reader’s experience is discussed, and suggestions and unresolved issues in this
field are formulated.