EFFECTS OF GENRE-SPECIFIC SETTING ON CAUSAL CHAIN COMPREHENSION OF NAIVE AND SOPHISTICATED SCIENCE FICTION READERS

ARLENE REVA HONIG PINCUS, Fordham University

Abstract

The investigator hypothesized that readers use the macro-structure SETTING to access genre-specific story schemata and that understanding a story's Setting information enhances Causal Chain understanding. Because Setting interacts with readers' prior knowledge about possible-worlds in which stories are set, a science fiction story was chosen. Science fiction Settings do not match known possible-worlds; hence readers cannot routinely apply Setting information by default.^ The investigator hypothesized that Sophisticated science fiction readers construct genre-specific expectations. Sophisticated readers would use a science fiction scheme to understand such stories, while Naive readers, using a more general story schema, would understand less of the Setting, and therefore less of the Causal Chain. It was predicted that a general summary of the story's Setting would improve recall of both variables.^ Subjects were competent adult readers, categorized by a test of science fiction background knowledge into 36 Naive and 36 Sophisticated subjects.^ The story was a 7600 word, naturally-occurring, science fiction story. Based upon the work of Delany (1977; 1978), Setting was analyzed on dimensions in which science fiction and realistic fiction differ: uniqueness of concept and level of imagery. Causal Chain was analyzed through an Event Chain Analysis as suggested by Warren, Nicholas, and Trabasso (1979). Dependents were tested in a multiple-choice recall condition. Half the subjects received the Setting Summary.^ Sophisticated subjects recalled significantly more Setting and Causal Chain information than Naive subjects. Both groups showed systematic differences between recall of Setting proposition categories. There was a significant relationship between the Causal Chain and Setting. The Setting Summary did not affect subjects' recall.^ The investigator concluded that Sophisticated readers had an advantage in recalling Causal Chain and Setting information. The success of a few Naive subjects in recalling Causal Chain information showed that a general schema could be used to understand the story's events. However, these subjects remembered less Setting information related to the Causal Chain than did Sophisticated readers. ^

Subject Area

Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

PINCUS, ARLENE REVA HONIG, "EFFECTS OF GENRE-SPECIFIC SETTING ON CAUSAL CHAIN COMPREHENSION OF NAIVE AND SOPHISTICATED SCIENCE FICTION READERS" (1984). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8409267.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8409267

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