El microrrelato: Flash Fiction and the Neurohumanities
This dissertation defends the microrrelato, an extremely brief work of narrative fiction, as the “fourth narrative genre,” as informed by research in embodied cognitive science, often referred to as the field of “neurohumanities.” The hallmark brevity of the microrrelato means that the literary perception of the text—and the creation of an imagined story world—is highly influenceable by its context, though the traditional literary criticism often published regarding the microrrelato does not seem to defend its distinction. I offer a reexamination of the microrrelato by defining it using a radial-structure conceptualization as informed by research from cognitive science on prototypes to inform a more comprehensive approach to defining the microrrelato and its relationship to other narrative, fictional, and literary forms. By looking at the prototypical conceptualization of the microrrelato through the lens of the neurohumanities, its distinction as its own category of narrative prose becomes clearer. Whereas the vast majority of research in the neurohumanities uses larger works of literature as summative case studies, very little has yet been applied to such short, “sudden” pieces of narrative fiction. It is through this examination that I demonstrate that fictional texts do not need to be extensive in order to afford the realization of cognitive processes in readers that construct imagined story worlds or afford them enriched narrative experience. The brevity or “suddenness” of the microrrelato is precisely what affords the reader the opportunity to do so. Furthermore, by applying empirical research from the field of neurohumanities, including data that I have collected, to the microrrelato, this dissertation also provides insight into the nature of fiction and the act of reading itself.