Search – University of Copenhagen

Litterær æstetisk oplevelse: Læsning, læseoplevelser og læseundersøgelser: en diskussion af teoretiske og metodiske tilgange

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis


Translated title of the contributionLiterary Aesthetic Experience : Reading, reading experiences and reading studies: a discussion of theoretical and methodological approches
This dissertation examines reading experiences and their characteristics with the purpose to be able to carry out empirical based studies of the phenomenon. Reading experiences is identified partly through a theoretical approach based on aesthetic theory, partly through an empirical approach based on qualitative interviews with adult readers. The reading experience is theoretical defined as a literary aesthetic experience and empirical defined as the verbalized reading experience.

The dissertation answers the following questions:  

What knowledge exists about reading and reading experiences based on existing reading studies?


What is a reading experience and how is it verbalized?

How can one develop a strategy to study reading experiences that to a larger extend pinpoint the complexity of reading and takes into account the reading experience as it it verbalized by readers?  

Through a review of existing reading research and the development that has taken place in the field of sociological based reading studies in the years from 1945 to 2009, the existing knowledge of reading experiences is presented. Reading and the many elements in reading are high-lighted in different ways depending on the underlying motives in the different studies. The knowledge obtained through a review of existing studies appears both fragmented and inadequate, and calls for a thorough examination of the reading experience as a phenomenon.

The theoretical study of reading experiences is based on philosophical aesthetics and a search of the concept of aesthetic experience through academics as Alexander Baumgarten, Hans-Georg Gadamer, John Dewey and Richard Shusterman. The concept of aesthetic experience is extended to literature through the inclusion of the conceptual framework of Jan Mukařovský that can be placed in the field of aesthetic theory and reception theory and is defined as a literary aesthetic experience. The literary aesthetic experience can be characterized as a complex and substantial phenomenon that creates both pleasure and displeasure, and experience as well as awareness in the reader. Similarly, it is characterised by both being subject- and context-dependent and changing in relation to the purpose and function of the reading.

The empirical study of reading experience investigate the verbalized reading experience with a particular focus on what the readers highlight as essential to the reading experience and how this is verbalised.The reading experience is characterized by the emotions and moods, which it activates in the reader while reading, and by the traces in terms of knowledge and experience left in the reader. Reading experiences is not understood as one type of experience, but changes depending on what is read, when it is read and for what purpose it is read. The verbalised reading experience is characterized by a temporally and spatially dimension. The dissertation identifies the temporal dimension as the past, the now and the after of the reading experience, while the spatial dimension suggest that readers' statements can be arranged in relation to the significant focus on the reader, the text or the context.

The theoretical and empirical approach to the reading experience creates an overall knowledge of the many elements of the reading experience and their interconnected relations, as well as an insight into the structure of the verbalization, a knowledge which finally is applied in the formulation of an analytical approach to the study of reading experience.

The dissertation contributes to the reading research through a greater understanding of the reading experience and its nature. Further the dissertation establishes an overall picture of the reading experience as a complex phenomenon that potentially provides the reader with a space for self-awareness and self-expansion. The dissertation combines the existing knowledge about reading experiences and complements it with additional features and levels. Finally, the dissertation contributes with a theoretical and empirical foundation for future reading studies.


Original languageDanish
Place of PublicationDanmarks Biblioteksskole
Publisher[Danmarks Biblioteksskole]
Number of pages205
ISBN (Electronic)9788774153115
StatePublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • reading experiences

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