IMAGE SCHEMAS AND DOWNGRADING IN JANETTE TURNER HOSPITAL’S SHORT STORY “HERE AND NOW”
Keywords:cognitive poetics, image schemas, downgrading, Janette Turner Hospital
Due to the fact that embodiment determines the way in which we interact with the outside
world and cognitively structure external inputs, image schemas play an essential role in our
understanding of literary texts (ZUNSHINE 2015). In his study, Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction
(2002), Peter Stockwell defines the basic tenets of cognitive poetics and hypothesizes that literary
texts which pose a challenge for analysis express a higher degree of aberration from our sense of
reality in terms of schematic structures. He explains that on a scale of informativity, such texts
contain second- and third-order informativity which represent unusual or highly unlikely things
and events that disrupt existing schema information, compared to first-order informativity which
preserves or reinforces the existing schemas. In order to integrate second- and third- order occurrences
into a person’s existing knowledge, the processes of downgrading need to be employed.
Thus, a text can either be downgraded backwards, by searching for textual cues and information
in the previously read excerpts, or forward by searching for an explanation for the encountered
anomaly. This paper will try to offer an insightful cognitive reading of Janette Turner Hospital’s
short story “Here and Now” (1989) in an attempt to demonstrate how image schemas and downgrading
serve a vital role in understanding a literary text.
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