bookshelves: Literature and Psychology

Introducing Literature & Psychology


Literature & Psychology is a collection of interdisciplinary news items that I aggregate daily (well, almost daily) through ScoopIt.

Literature & Psychology is also a new category of blog post here. Of course, there’s a story behind it.

About 35 years ago I completed the coursework, though not the dissertation, for a doctorate in English and American literature. But not finishing that degree did not keep me from reading. The more I read, and the more book group discussions I attended, the more I realized that what intrigued me most about fiction is that good literature is psychology, or what characters do, why they do it, and how they handle the consequences of their actions. So when I went back to school for a late-life doctorate, I studied psychology as an adjunct to the literary training I already had. My focus was on life stories, an area that contributes directly to understanding fictional characters.

Posts labeled Literature & Psychology will consider areas that involve the intersection of those two fields. I think of both fields broadly, so that they overlap in areas involving history, culture, and society. The emphasis here, though, is always on how psychology can help us better understand and appreciate works of literature. These posts will focus on three broad areas:

  1. Content, particularly characterization: How do authors create characters?
  2. Form and structure: What conventions and devices do writers use to shape their stories?
  3. The reading process: How and why do we get lost in a good book?

Although these discussions will focus primarily on literature, I will sometimes refer to other formats, particularly film and television, that share aesthetic and cultural features with literature.

Look for the first real Literature & Psychology post soon.

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