Embodied Cognition at the Crossroads of
Philosophy, Linguistics, Psychology and Artificial Intelligence

May 13-15, 2021, Cluj-Napoca, ROMANIA

Panel 5


Embodied Reading and Learning: Empirical Investigations



Saturday 15/5, 12:00-13:30


Anne Mangen


Anne Mangen

Affiliation: University of Stavanger, Norway
Title: Embodied aspects of reading
Abstract: The ongoing transition from reading on the substrate of paper to reading on a diversity of screens, reveals that reading is embodied in ways that have yet to be thoroughly addressed.
Take a closer look at your fingers next time you pick up your smart phone to check the news, and compare with your fingers as they handle the pages of a print magazine. Or, take a moment during your reading of a novel on the Kindle or iPad, to reflect on the feel when holding the device and swiping the screen to turn the pages. Then compare this with holding a printed book in your hands and turning pages back and forth. The materiality of the substrate – screen displays and paper pages – provides different tactile feedback to your fingers and hands, hence engaging your body and brain differently. Whether, how and to what extent such differences have an effect on how we read, are intriguing questions that reading researchers are only beginning to understand, and findings from empirical research on screen reading indicate that there is indeed more to reading than meets the eye. More specifically, the physicality of the substrate of paper may contribute to certain cognitive and emotional aspects of reading in ways that we have yet to fully comprehend. Moreover, fully comprehending these issues takes a truly interdisciplinary approach in which quantitative and qualitative methods, online and offline, direct and indirect measures are combined.
In psychology, reading is commonly studied as a visuo-perceptual, cognitive process, often applying online-measures such as eye tracking in combination with self-report data. In such studies, participants typically read a short text on a stationary computer screen, while the head is fixed in a head-mount or stabilized by the use of a chin rest. In the rare cases in eye tracking reading research where the texts are longer than one screen, page turning is done by means of the space bar on the keyboard, or the mouse. Hence, in experimental research on the psychology of reading, participants are never literally in touch with the texts they read.
Drawing on recent empirical research revealing a screen inferiority effect on cognitive aspects of reading, this paper will discuss some theoretical and methodological implications of digitisation for the future of reading, and reading research. 


Lovise Søyland

Affiliation: University of South-Eastern Norway
TitleEmbodied making and learning in arts and crafts
Abstract: In art and craft studies, students interact with materials and material situations through their hands and bodies. This material interaction involves thinking and reflecting in relation to what the material affords but also in relation to the intentions and skills of the maker. In research on art and craft processes the accumulation of experiential and embodied knowledge in relation to materials and manual skills are key. Embodied cognition is therefore a suitable theoretical frame for understanding art and craft processes. The research group Embodied Making and Learning at the University of South-Eastern Norway study arts and craft processes in relation to pedagogical aims and issues. In our presentation we will draw on several research projects from the group members that draw on experiential knowledge and embodied cognition as a theory while reflecting on pedagogical perspectives and material interactions. The topics range from pedagogical models for material studies to learning through experience in the digital age. We will give a broad view on the different contexts in which arts and craft practice may shed light on the topic of embodied making and learning.


Marie-Theres Fester-Seeger

Affiliation: University of Southern Denmark
Title: A temporal-embodied perspective on mobile reading
Abstract: Reading is complex phenomenon. Through the advent of the ‘embodied turn’ in cognitive science, we began to acknowledge that reading is a whole-body practice (i.e. we flip through pages, we use our fingers to guide us through text or we use our voice to hear what is written). This practice is not merely locally embodied but, moreover, relies on the intersecting of multiple time-scales through which we engage our social world. In agreement with Trasmundi and Mangen (this workshop), reading relies on historical bodies: socio-cultural constraints and biographical experiences, among others, impact an individual’s local reading situation. Short, reading takes place in reading ecologies that extend time and space. In this talk, I explore the ways in which we can account for a notion of temporality in reading that is not solely historical but also explains how future events constrain past actions.

I present a case from a longitudinal ethnographic study conducted in an undergraduate class on project-based learning. Students worked in groups and communicated through a group text chat outside class. In a posterior interview, one group member (P1) enacted vividly her attitude (i.e. frustration) towards another group member (P2). While P1’s frustration was obvious in the interview, it was rather extenuated in the direct encounter with P2. P1’s retrojecting (the counterpart of ‘projecting’) intensified past engagements with P2. This also affected P1’s reading of P2’s text messages. When P1 repeatedly thinks back to past occurrences in the classroom, she, at the same time, gives new meaning to those instances. Not only the past constrains the future, but future events also constrain the past. The past, present and future are, therefore, inseparable (James, 1890).
Through sensorimotor engagement, people are touched by another’s voice, facial expression and gestures. This ‘being touched’ determines how they read texts from others, and how it affects them. Reading is, therefore, not sole visual perception but temporally embodied; people’s experiences of and attitude towards the social world determine (mobile) reading.

Trasmundi, S. B. and Mangen, A. (this workshop). Distributed perspective on reading.
James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology New York. Holt and company.


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