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Immersive reading and the unnatural text-worlds of "Dead Fish"

Norledge, Jessica



Benedict Neurohr

Lizzie Stewart-Shaw


In this chapter I present a Text World Theory analysis of Adam Marek’s emotionally charged dystopian short story, “Dead Fish”, which takes for its focus a possible future world recovering from environmental disaster. Drawing upon naturalistic reader response data in support of my own introspective analysis, I investigate the estranging experience of reading this particular narrative and discuss the readerly process of interpreting its defamiliarising world-building elements. Analytical focus is placed upon the responses of a purpose-built reading group (comprising four postgraduate research students from the University of Sheffield), who compare their conceptualisation of particular entities within the text-world, and reflect upon their understanding of such entities as “unnatural”. Through a combined application of narratological approaches to unnatural narration (Alber and Heinze 2013) and a Text World Theory perspective (Gavins 2007; Werth 1999), I investigate how readers respond to unnatural narration and draw several connections between readerly immersion and the emotional experience of reading unnatural texts.


Norledge, J. (2019). Immersive reading and the unnatural text-worlds of "Dead Fish". In B. Neurohr, & L. Stewart-Shaw (Eds.), Experiencing Fictional Worlds (157-175). John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Online Publication Date Feb 21, 2019
Publication Date Feb 21, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 18, 2022
Pages 157-175
Series Title Linguistic Approaches to Literature
Series Number 32
Book Title Experiencing Fictional Worlds
Chapter Number 9
ISBN 9789027202017
Public URL
Publisher URL

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