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  • Writer's picturePete Harvey

How do you summarise a story in just a few words?

Earlier this month I presented some early findings from my PhD research at the Aston University Applied Stylistic Symposium:

I've uploaded a summary of my paper to the nQuire website, where I hosted the my 'citizen literature' survey. In my study, I asked participants to read a short extract from The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, and then summarise it in their own words. My findings draw on recent theories about how readers represent narratives in the mind:

"Participants were not simply committing Atwood’s words to memory, but were drawing on their rich mental models of what the text was about"

In the paper, I suggested that different readers adopt different strategies when summarising literary texts:

"...we might say that some participants placed more emphasis on reporting what happened, while others placed more emphasis on reporting who thought what."

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