PhD Success: Susanne Mathies

Congratulations to Susanne Mathies, who recently completed her PhD “The Simulated Self – Fiction Reading and Narrative Identity”.

L-R: Manuel Dries (internal examiner); Carolyn Price (supervisor); Susanne Mathies; Kathleen Stock (University of Sussex, external examiner).

In the thesis, Susanne develops an account that explores the relation between fiction reading and the reader’s narrative identity. The account is based on two starting assumptions: first, that human beings are entangled in stories throughout their lives, and second, that emotions are complex and have a narrative structure. During the reading process, the fiction reader creates her own narratives which contain not only the story provided by the work of fiction, but also event sequences from her own experiential memories. This involves the creation of self-conscious emotions, which can continue after the reading is finished, and can motivate the reader to engage in self-reflection and to refigure her self-narrative. Susanne’s account thus examines a new topic: the interactive influence of fiction reading and the fiction reader’s narrative identity.