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Unknowable Protagonists and Narrative Delirium in American Psycho and Hotline Miami: A Case Study in Character Engagement Across the Media

Abstract

Empathetic perspective-taking is one of the main psychological mechanisms behind audiences’ engagement with narrative (Coplan 2004; Eder 2006). What happens, however, when a story confronts with a character whose emotions, motivations, and beliefs we fail to understand? This paper examines the phenomenon of “unreadable minds” (Abbott 2008) from a transmedial perspective: how do audiences relate to a character who defies all attempts at making sense of his or her identity despite being the main focus of a narrative? My case studies - the novel American Psycho (1991) by Bret Easton Ellis and the video game Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games 2012) - foreground two such characters: by calling attention to the opaqueness of their protagonists, they heighten the audiences’ interest in - and puzzlement at - their identity. In my comparative analysis I explore two dimensions that contribute to audiences’ sense of unknowability of the protagonists: the hallucinations and delusions experienced by both characters (an instance of what Bernaerts [2009] calls “narrative delirium”); and their extreme violence, which raises unanswered ethical questions. While bringing out the continuities between American Psycho and Hotline Miami, I also highlight how the interactivity of Hotline Miami makes the central paradox of relating to an unknowable character even more salient for the audience. In this way, I show that the video game medium has reached a level of interpretive complexity that can stand the comparison with literary fiction.

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Understanding Contextual and Social Meaning in Typically Developing Finnish-Speaking Four- To Eight-Year-Old Children

Abstract

This study examined the development of social-pragmatic comprehension in 170 Finnish four- to eight-year-old children. The children were asked to respond to socially and contextually demanding questions targeting their social-pragmatic language processing, and to explain their correct answers in order to elicit their awareness of how they had derived the answers from the context. The results showed that the number of correct answers increased especially between the ages of four and seven years. We found that questions demanding contextual processing without mind-reading were the easiest to understand, followed by questions demanding processing of feelings of others and false beliefs. The questions demanding understanding of relevant language use and processing of contextual factors including mental states and intentions were the most challenging for the children. Between four and five years of age there was a remarkable developmental phase in children’s ability to give proper explanations.

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Educational technology for inclusion: Design of an educational software for individuals with autism spectrum disorders

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Do honeybees have concepts?

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Literal meaning: A first step to meaning interpretation

thought . Mass: The MIT Press, pp. 157-193. Sperber, D. and Wilson, D., 1995. Relevance: Communication and cognition . Blackwell, Oxford. Sperber, D. and Wilson, D., 2002. Pragmatics, modularity and mind-reading. Mind & Language , vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 3-23. Swinney, D. A., 1979. Lexical access during sentence comprehension: (Re)consideration of context effects. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior , vol. 18. pp. 645-59. Thomas, J., 1989. Meaning in interaction: An introduction to pragmatics . London and New York: Routledge

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Acquiring Epistemic Modal Auxiliaries: The Role of Theory of Mind

. Evidential particles and mind-reading. Pragmatics & Cognition 13. 253-295. Kazak, Sibel, Collis, Glyn M. and Lewis, Vicky. 1997. Can young people with autism refer to knowledge states? Evidence from their understanding of know and guess. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 38. 1001-1009. Leslie, Alan. M. and Thaiss, Laila. 1992. Domain specificity in conceptual development: Neuropsychological evidence from autism. Cognition 43. 225-251. Milligan, Karen, Astington, Janet Wilde and Dack, Lisa Ain. 2007. Language and Theory of Mind: Meta

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Soziale Interaktion durch Synchronisation. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven / Social Interaction through Synchronisation. Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Sciences 16 (2), 114-121. Hove, M.J. & Risen, J.L. (2009). It’s all in the timing: interpersonal synchrony increases affilitation. Social Cognition 27 (6), 949-961. Husserl, E. (1973). Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität. Texte aus dem Nachlass. Zweiter Teil: 1921-1928. Hrsg. Iso Kern. (Husserliana; XIV), Den Haag: Nijhoff. Ickes, W. (2003). Everyday Mind Reading: Understanding what other people think and feel. Amherst: Prometheus Books. Konvalinka, I. & Roepstorff, A. (2012). The two-brain approach

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Neurobiology of Psychotherpeutic Relationship-New Perspectives

00022.x 17. Rizzolatti R, Faddiga L, Gallese V, Fogassi L. Premotor cortex and the recognition of motor actions. Cognitive Brain Res 1996; 3:131-41. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0926-6410(95)00038-0 18. Gallese V, Goldman A. Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind-reading. Trends Cogn Sci 1998; 2:493-501. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1364-6613(98)01262-5 19. Rizzolatti R, Fogassi L, Gallese V. Neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the understanding and imitation of action. Nat Neurosci 2001; 2

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Irony as a Means of Perception Through Communication Channels. Emotions, Attitude and IQ Related to Irony Across Gender

and mind-reading. Mind and Language , 17, 3-23. Shuliang, M., Yanjie, S., Raymond, C.K., & Chanb, J.L. (2008). Comprehension of metaphor and irony in schizophrenia during remission: The role of theory of mind and IQ. Psychiatry Research , 157, 21-29. Taghavi, R., Moradi, A.R., Neshat-Doost, H.T., Yule, W., & Dalgleish, T. (2000). Interpretation of ambiguous emotional information in clinically anxious children and adolescents. Cognition and Emotions , 14, 809-822. Thurstone, L. (1931). The Measurement of Social

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Conversationally and Monologically-Produced Narratives: A Complex Story of Horizontal Décalages

–207). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Bokus, B. (1998). Action and its representation in the minds of story characters: Findings from children’s discourse. Psychology of Language and Communication , 2 , 63–77. Bokus, B. (2004). Inter-mind phenomena in child narrative discourse. Pragmatics , 14 , 391–408. Bokus, B. (2013). Mind-reading in children’s narration: Mental states ascribed to narrative line and narrative field subjects. In G. Shugar Wales, B. Bokus & J. Smogorzewska (Eds.), From reference situation to narrative text , vol. 21 (pp. 77–111). Piaseczno

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