Merja Polvinen's talk, Enactive Perception of Fictional Space: China Miéville’s "The City & The City", will examine the experience of fictional spaces in literature through the theory of enactive perception. While the spatial metaphors of entering and exiting worlds may match many of our intuitions about the ontological levels encountered during reading, they are unhelpful for describing the experience of experimental fictional environments, such as those generated by self-reflective fiction. Merja will suggest that the sensation of encountering a fictional world may be better explained as having sensory ‘access’ to it, with the perception forming in cooperation between the object and the actions of the embodied and skillful mind encountering it. This talk will illustrate this through an analysis of Miéville’s The City & The City (2009), where readers’ sense of access to the fictional world is reflected in the characters’ strange way of rendering parts of their environment as perceptually inaccessible. By thinking of perception of fictional spaces as experience of access, merja will suggest, we can better understand how readers’ experienceds of such spaces can include both a sense of immersion and a sense of fictionality.
Respondent: Prof Terence Cave (Oxford)
* Note the change of room to the Lecture Room *