Rereading as retelling: Re-evaluations of perspective in narrative fiction

Chloe Harrison, Louise Nuttall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter explores the idea of rereading as a process of retelling. Building on a burgeoning area of research in empirical literary studies, we aim to explore, specifically, how readers re-experience the fictional world of Margaret Atwood’s (2014) short story ‘The Freeze-Dried Groom’ differently during a second reading and how this may, in part, be due to their re-evaluation of narrator perspective. Studies in this area tend to use rereading as an experimental protocol rather than an object of study in its own right (see, for examples, Bray 2007; Castiglione 2017; Cui 2017; Hakemulder 2007), but such projects have nevertheless begun to flag up differences in first and subsequent readings of a text. Notably, for example, Dixon et al. (1993) and Hakemulder (2004) observed that rereading can impact on readers’ perceptions of literariness and aesthetic appreciation. More recently, such differences in experience have begun to be studied with more explicit acknowledgement of rereading as a process of reconceptualization or ‘reconstrual’ (Harrison and Nuttall 2019). This notion draws on the concept of construal defined in Cognitive Grammar as our ‘ability to conceive and portray the same situation in alternate ways’ (Langacker 2008: 43). The processes of reconstrual that occur during a rereading of a text can be seen, for example, in the acknowledgement of specific information that was ‘buried’ (Emmott and Alexander 2014) on a first reading but which gains in salience during a second (see Harrison and Nuttall 2018). This increase in salience can lead to the reattribution of attention to different domains of knowledge, which can impact on experiences of atmosphere and tone (Stockwell 2014), as well as alter the text world status of particular elements of the narrative through a ‘world-repair’ (Gavins 2000) (see also Harrison and Nuttall 2019)....
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNarrative Retellings
Subtitle of host publicationStylistic Approaches
EditorsMarina Lambrou
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781350120044, 9781350120037, 9781350120051
ISBN (Print)9781350120020, 9781350195363
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in Stylistics
PublisherBloomsbury Academic

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