Cognitive Poetics: Conceptual Frame Theory

In my previous post on comprehension of literature chapters from Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction and Cognitive Poetics in Practice, I summarized Stockwell’s overview of the construction-integration model of literary comprehension. In this post, I will focus on one specific tool developed within the construction-integration model: contextual frame theory.

Catherine Emmott, who developed contextual frame theory, uses the basic principles of her theory to analyze various “tails of the unexpected”. First, she explains that contextual frames are mental representations readers build and maintain while reading a text. The contextual frame that is most immediate to the reader, the one the reader feels she is actively witnessing, is called the primed frame. Within the primed frame are projected frames, also mental representations but less detailed than the primed frame. A projected frame may be retrospective projected frame (a flashback), an off-stage projected frame, or a planned projected frame.

Emmott distinguishes her theory from Stockwell’s “frame projection” and Werth’s “sub-worlds”, discussed in the chapters on parable, by limiting frames to representation of actual physical contexts. So […]