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Shared Experience – Shared Consolation?: Fictional Perspective-Taking and Existential Stances in Literature
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
2015 (English)In: LIR.journal, ISSN 1102-9773, ISSN 1102-9773, no 4, http://ub016045.ub.gu.se/ojs/index.php/LIRJ/search/authors/view?firstName=Torsten&middleName=&lastName=Petterson&affiliation=&country=Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper suggests some ways in which the concerns of exis- tential psychotherapy may be combined with the practice of poetry therapy. It emphasizes the capacity of literature for inducing perspective-taking, i.e. the reader’s opportunity of experiencing the ongoing here and now of a fictional character, including the speaker of a poem. It goes on to show this pro- cess in action in four poems exemplifying, respectively, four different attitudes to the existential question of meaning and purpose in life: transcendental-optimistic (Erik Gustaf Geijer’s »Natthimmelen« / »The Night Sky«); transcendental-pessimistic (A.E. Housman’s »The Laws of God«); immanent-optimistic (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s »A Hymn to the Night«); and immanent-pessimistic (Tennyson’s »Oh Yet We Trust«). What- ever the stance of the poems, the reader grappling with exis- tential questions may take the perspective of the speakers of the poems, thereby finding solace in a shared experience of the human condition.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborgs universitet, 2015. no 4, http://ub016045.ub.gu.se/ojs/index.php/LIRJ/search/authors/view?firstName=Torsten&middleName=&lastName=Petterson&affiliation=&country=
Keyword [en]
poetry therapy, bibliotherapy, existential questions, the meaning of life, perspective-taking, Geijer, Longfellow, Tennyson, Houseman
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-293155OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-293155DiVA: diva2:927542
Available from: 2016-05-12 Created: 2016-05-12 Last updated: 2016-05-12

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