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Joint attention, semiotic mediation and literary narrative

Exploring the importance for narrative theory of the concept of “joint attention”.

In this paper Adam discusses the importance for narrative theory of the concept of “joint attention”.

Having explained its significance for the emergence of narrative in young children, he draws out its implications for understanding narrative signification: where classical narratology is based on chains of communicative dyads (signifier/signified and sender/receiver), joint attention integrates these functions into a triadic semiotic where the sign mediates between the producer of the sign, its receiver, and the object of joint attention. Joint attention offers affordances for quasi-recursive re-contextualization in which the objects of joint attention consist of other acts of joint attention: literary narrative creates complex joint attentional structures by which the story is “seen” through nested perspectival prisms of embedded narrative and character.

Dr Adam Lively received his PhD from Royal Holloway College in 2015. His academic research explores the implications for literary and narrative theory of contemporary cognitive science and philosophy of mind. In addition to this research he has published four novels and a number of short stories. He is currently a fixed-term Lecturer in Creative Writing at Middlesex University.


Dr Adam Lively | talks | www


Date and Time:

10 May 2016 at 2:00 pm


1 hour



Language and Communication, Middlesex University
Middlesex University
The Burroughs
+44 84 11 65 55

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Language and Communication Research Seminars are organised by the Language and Communication research cluster at Middlesex University. The staff facilitator for the series is Anna Charalambidou

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