Doctoral defence: Susanna Soosaar “Reading time: experiencing story time in postmodernist fiction”

On 8 May at 15:00 Susanna Soosaar will defend her doctoral thesis “Reading time: experiencing story time in postmodernist fiction”

Professor Raili Marling, University of Tartu

Maria Mäkelä, Tampere University (Finland)
Epp Annus, Tallinn University and Ohio State University (USA)

The process of reading operates on multiple experiential levels: the experience of physical text, of words that can be read, as well as of fictional events within immersive storyworlds. The events of the novel are spatially and physically present before the beginning of our reading process. Each word and character is in its place before the reader begins her journey through the storyworld as the structure of the narrative is inscribed within the physical book. Before the reading process, the temporality of the novel is static, events stay still until the reader actualizes the narrative. When the reader enters the world of the novel, she will produce a temporalized story from the static text. Rooted in the traditions of phenomenology, reader-response theories, analytical philosophy, and narratology, the project focuses on studying narrative time through the perspective of the reader. The dissertation is devoted to identifying the ways in which readers collaborate with the text to produce story time. Story time refers to the sequence of events within the storyworld, the time period that is represented by narrative content, as if experienced by the characters. Since the organization of narrative of most novels does not consist of a real-time unfolding of events, the structure of story time is often distinct from the structure of narrative discourse. While I consider narrative discourse to be a fixed aspect of text, story time is a more fluid category. Guided by the form and content of the narrative, story time is ultimately shaped by the reader’s interpretation of narrative discourse. The fictional worlds that unravel in the reading process require an active reader who is ready to engage with the narrative in order to assemble stories. Through a close reading of postmodern novels, I study the temporalizing act of producing story time that the reader performs while reading literature. In order to discuss the different shapes story time may take in individual readers’ interpretations, I examine which textual elements have the greatest effect on the production of story time. Thus, the main objective of this dissertation is to understand how the intimate communication between reader and text produces stories – collections of characters and events that are shaped into a specific timeline of activities and processes that gradually unfold during the reading process.


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Doktorant teeb laval ettekannet

Mark your calendars: three-minute thesis competition for doctoral students to be held on 2 October

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Musician Kadri Voorand to be the new Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Tartu