Mapping the aesthetic space of literature "from below"

  • The present paper aims to elucidate the conceptual structure of the aesthetics of literature.Following Fechner's "aesthetics from below" (1876) and adopting a method introduced by Jacobsen, Buchta, Kohler, and Schroeger (2004), we asked 1544 German-speaking research participants to list adjectives that they use to label aesthetic dimensions of literature in general and of individual literary forms and genres in particular (novels, short stories, poems, plays, comedies). According to our analyses of frequency, mean list rank, and the Cognitive Salience Index, beautiful and suspenseful rank highest across all target categories. For plays/comedies, funny and sad turned out to be the most relevant terms; for novels and short stories, suspenseful, interesting and romantic; and for poetry romantic, along with the music-related terms harmonious, rhythmic, and melodious. A comparison of our results with analogous studies for visual aesthetics and music yielded a comprehensive map of the distribution of aesthetic appeal dimensions across sensory modalities and aesthetic domains, with poetry and music showing the greatest overlap.

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Author:Christine Angela Knoop, Valentin Wagner, Thomas Jacobsen, Winfried Menninghaus
Parent Title (English):Poetics : journal of empirical research on literature, media and the arts
Publisher:New York, NY [u.a.]
Place of publication:Elsevier
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2016/04/01
Date of first Publication:2016/04/01
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/06/29
Tag:Empirische Ästhetik
Aesthetic appeal dimensions; Literary form; Terminological mapping
GND Keyword:Ästhetik; Poetik; Literaturgattung
First Page:35
Last Page:49
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 80 Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft / 800 Literatur und Rhetorik
Sammlungen:CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0