New FWF project acquired


Since January 1, Günther Stocker and Hajo Boomgaarden are leading the FWF-funded project "Listening to Literature: Experiencing Literary Audiobooks".

The first encounter with literature in a person's life takes place in childhood when listening to stories and in situations of reading aloud. But not only in personal development, but also historically, listening to stories forms the beginning of the engagement with literature and the silent reading of books as the dominant practice only follows much later. Auditory reception has always been an important form of literary consumption, but in the 21st century, listening to literature, particularly in the form of audiobooks, has once again become a widespread activity. However, despite their popularity, audiobooks are often credited with being a shallow and less demanding alternative to reading and cannot replace reading the printed book. Since there is still very little empirical research on listening to literature, it seems important to thoroughly examine the specific practices and experiences of listening to literary audiobooks and to compare them with traditional print reading.

The main research question of the project is therefore: Are there any (measurable) differences if the same literary narrative is read in print or listened to in the form of an audiobook? This regards more specifically crucial dimensions of the literary experience such as (1) text comprehension, (2) aesthetic emotions, (3) identification and engagement with narrative characters, and (4) immersion in the narrated world? Furthermore, we question if possible differences depend on specific narrative techniques or on the surroundings and the context in which the literary text is received. Due to the lack of empirical studies on audiobook listening, especially with a focus on literary texts, the project uses a mixed-methods approach to explore the addressed phenomena in as many ways as possible.

The transdisciplinary conception of our project combines theoretical and methodological approaches from literary studies, communication science and media psychology based on a multidisciplinary research team.

Listening to Literature: Experiencing Literary Audiobooks is the follow-up project of the project Books on screen. The consequences of digital fiction reading (2019-2022), and will receive funding from the Austrian Research Fund (FWF). Günther Stocker (Institut für Germanistik, University of Vienna) and Hajo Boomgaarden are the principal investigators, while Lukas Kosch and Annika Schwabe will once again provide scientific support as they also did for Books on screen. The project is scheduled to run from January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2025, with the funding totaling to around € 380.000.

Listening to Literature: Experiencing Literary Audiobooks

Funding organization: Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
PI: Günther Stocker • Hajo Boomgaarden
Duration: 2023-2025
Funding: € 380.719,50

Image © Hajo Boomgaarden