Edited by Paul Sopčák, Massimo Salgaro and J. Berenike Herrmann
[Scientific Study of Literature 6:1] 2016
► pp. 131–163
Conveying moods and knowledge-what-it-is-like through lyric poetry
An empirical study of authors’ intentions and readers’ responses
A very influential idea in western aesthetics is that poems convey multifaceted affective states (moods). This interdisciplinary study compares the moods aroused by the poems with the moods the reader thinks the poem expresses. Further, aroused and expressed mood are compared to the mood the professional authors of the poems had intended. An experimental design with a total of 234 participants was employed. Main results are: (1) Readers’ expressed and aroused moods differ on average and between-person variation is somewhat higher in aroused mood. (2) Authors’ intended moods differ from readers’ expressed moods as well as from readers’ aroused moods. (3) Some readers acquire a special kind of experiential knowledge (knowledge-what-it-is-like to be in a specific mood) through the reception of a poem. In an exploratory fashion, the effects of literary education, classification as fiction, ascription of mood to a situation described in the poem, and reading time were investigated.
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