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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Dr. Marco Caracciolo

Dr. Marco Caracciolo

University of Groningen
Comparative Literature
Junior Fellow (Alexander von Humboldt-Fellow)
September 2015 - January 2017


Marco Caracciolo received a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Bologna in 2012, and has held fellowships in Hamburg and Groningen since then. During his PhD he was a visiting scholar at University College London and the Ohio State University (Project Narrative).

Marco's work explores the phenomenology of narrative, or the structure of the experiences afforded by literary fiction and other narrative media. He is also interested in the dynamics of interpretation and in engaging with characters, especially characters whom we perceive as "strange" or deviant (narrating animals, serial killers, cyborgs).

Marco has published articles in journals such as Poetics Today, Narrative, New Literary History, and Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. He is the author of an introduction to cognitive literary studies in Italian (with Marco Bernini; Letteratura e scienze cognitive, Carocci, 2013) and of The Experientiality of Narrative: An Enactivist Approach (De Gruyter, 2014). He is currently finalizing a book project on defamiliarization and empathy in readers’ engagements with the first-person narrators of contemporary fiction.


Selected Publications

  • Caracciolo, Marco. “Narrative, Meaning, Interpretation: An Enactivist Approach.” Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11, no. 3 (2012): 367–84.
  • Caracciolo, Marco. “Embodiment at the Crossroads: Some Open Questions Between Literary Interpretation and Cognitive Science.” Poetics Today 34, no. 1–2 (2013): 233–53.
  • Bernaerts, Lars, Marco Caracciolo, Luc Herman, and Bart Vervaeck. “The Storied Lives of Non-Human Narrators.” Narrative 22, no. 1 (2014): 68–93.
  • Caracciolo, Marco. The Experientiality of Narrative: An Enactivist Approach. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.
  • Caracciolo, Marco, and Karin Kukkonen. “Cognitive Literary Study: Second-Generation Approaches." Special Issue. Style 48, no.3 (2014).


FRIAS Research Project

Embodiment and Cosmic Perspective-Taking in 20th Century Fiction

This project explores a corpus of 20th century novels encouraging readers to engage with scientific knowledge about the universe in hands-on, embodied ways. As argued by cognitive scientists working in the wake of Varela, Thompson, and Rosch’s The Embodied Mind (1991), cognition results from embodied patterns of interaction with the world. Recent research in literary theory suggests that the body also plays a role in reading literary narrative, through kinesthetic empathy for characters or feelings of immersion in storyworlds. This project examines how 20th century fiction may leverage readers’ embodied involvement towards the representation of realities that, like the Big Bang or the evolution of life on Earth, far surpass the “human scale.” My main hypothesis is that a process of “bodily defamiliarization” is at work in the corpus texts: the conceptual challenge of understanding the universe is conveyed by reutilizing readers’ past bodily experiences in novel ways.