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Attributing minds to vampires in Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend

Nuttall, Louise

Authors

Louise Nuttall louise.nuttall@nottingham.ac.uk



Abstract

For Palmer (2004, 2010), and other proponents of a cognitive narratology, research into real-world minds in the cognitive sciences provides insights into readers’ experiences of fictional minds. In this article, I explore the application of such research to the minds constructed for the vampire characters in Richard Matheson’s (1954) science fiction/horror novel I Am Legend. I draw upon empirical research into ‘mind attribution’ in social psychology, and apply Cognitive Grammar (Langacker, 2008), and its notion of ‘construal’, as a framework for the application of such findings to narrative. In my analysis, I suggest that readers’ attribution of mental-states to the vampires in Matheson’s novel is strategically limited through a number of choices in their linguistic construal. Drawing on online reader responses to the novel, I argue that readers’ understanding of these other minds plays an important role in their empathetic experience and their ethical judgement of the novel’s main character and focaliser, Robert Neville. Finally, I suggest that the limited mind attribution for the vampires invited through their construal contributes to the presentation of a ‘mind style’ (Fowler, 1977) for this character.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 9, 2015
Journal Language and Literature
Print ISSN 0963-9470
Electronic ISSN 0963-9470
Publisher SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 1
APA6 Citation Nuttall, L. (2015). Attributing minds to vampires in Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Language and Literature, 24(1), doi:10.1177/0963947014561834
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0963947014561834
Keywords Fictional minds, mind attribution, Cognitive Grammar, construal, empathy, ethics, intermentality, mind style, I Am Legend, Matheson.
Publisher URL http://lal.sagepub.com/content/24/1/23
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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