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We Do Not See Things as They Are. We See Them as We Are. Fictional Point of View and Reader Response: An Empirical Exploration.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Valerie Lowe
Publication date1999
Number of pages698
Awarding Institution
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
Electronic ISBNs9780438572133
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis reports the findings of two empirical studies into readers' responses to fictional point of view. The impetus for the research came from my complementary studies in stylistics and Women's Studies. On the one hand, stylisticians often argued that the use of an internal perspective invariably elicited a sympathetic response, due to the reader's access to the character or narrator's mind. On the other hand, feminist scholars were insisting on resisting readings, arguing that texts often represented a 'male' point of view that had little relevance for women readers. Obviously neither of these positions can be completely correct, since there are characters whose minds we might understand yet deplore, just as there must be male readers who resist a 'female' point of view in women's writing. I set out to explore how male and female readers responded to the internal perspective represented in two short stories, taking into account such factors as sex, age, literary training and personal experience. The thesis does not provide any 'answers', but confirms that responses are much less straightforward than 'acceptance' of, or resistance to, internal point of view.