Linguistic Construal and Narrative Empathy in Kate Chopin’s The Story of Hour (1894)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


While definitions of the concept vary widely within and across fields, narrative empathy is usually seen as some form of vicariously sharing thoughts and feelings with fictional characters (Burke et al., 2016). Drawing on narratological research in narrative empathy, the notion of the construed reader (Jaakola et al., 2014) and Cognitive Grammar (Langacker, 2008), I explore how Kate Chopin’s 1894 short story The Story of an Hour positions the reader to engage with the mind of its protagonist, Mrs Mallard. I suggest that the linguistic construal of the narrative invites readers to dramatically reorganise their conception of Mrs Mallard half-way through the narrative, which has the potential to change readers’ empathetic engagement with her. Further drawing on real reader responses to the story, I suggest that the way Cognitive Grammar allows us to provide cognitive stylistic evidence for the idea that gapping and inferencing are crucial to the experience of narrative empathy (Iser, 1978, Louwerse & Kuiken, 2004).
Period12 Jul 2019
Event title39th Annual Conference of the Poetics and Linguistics Association 2019: ‘Stylistics Without Borders’
Event typeConference
Conference number39
LocationLiverpool, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational