Publication details [#10284]

Steen, Gerard J. 2003. A historical view of empirical poetics: Trends and possibilities. 17 pp.


A historical view of the empirical study of literature provides a platform for reflection on the past, present, and future of the enterprise. The development of the field is sketched with reference to a number of turning points in the eight conferences of the scholarly association for empirical poetics, IGEL. A shift is observed from a theory-driven to a research-driven image. On the basis of this shift, problematic aspects of doing empirical research and formulating empirical theories are singled out for special attention. In particular, a plea is made for viewing research as puzzle solving in the sense of Kuhn, instead of the more ambitious view of Popper (1979) who sees research as testing theories. Moreover, an argument is presented for respecting but also relating the results from different theoretical paradigms. Finally, theoretical consequences of this standpoint include the adoption of pluralism while remaining alert with respect to maintaining the consistency of the overall definition of literature as a domain of discourse. (Gerard Steen)