Podcast: Literature and the Artful Mind

How do readers develop “critical feeling”?  Professor Rolf Reber joins the Literature, Cognition and Emotions Podcast to talk about how we understand literary works from a cognitive perspective.

Man at a desk talking into a microphone.

There are different levels of reading, Rolf Reber states, and the “artful mind” reads literature in order to “feel through reading and learn through feeling”. Photo: Vera Syrovatskaya.


Is there a difference between reacting to and understanding a work of art? Can critical thinking make reading more enjoyable? The final podcast of this season discusses how thinking and feeling combine through literature.  

Rolf Reber, Professor in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Oslo, speaks to Karin Kukkonen about reading and emotional engagement, and the ways in which readers find pleasure in literature through “critical feeling.” Listen as Rolf Reber describes how “the artful mind” appreciates literature on multiple levels, and why knowledge about a book’s composition and the time and place when it was written can make reading more enjoyable. They also discuss whether stories need to be true in order to affect readers emotionally and what psychology can learn from literature about emotions.  Can the right font make us believe in fake news? And how is reading fiction similar to wine tasting?

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The reading recommendation from Rolf Reber: 

  • Adalbert Stifter, Indian Summer. Published by Peter Lang and translated from German by Wendell Frye.  

  • In his book Critical Feeling: How to use Feelings Strategically (2016, Cambridge UP), Rolf Reber combines insights from psychology, philosophy and education to explain how we can use feelings to optimize individual and social outcomes. 
Published Mar. 18, 2021 9:00 AM - Last modified July 1, 2022 10:34 AM