2012 Student Research Conference:
25th Annual Student Research Conference

Imagining Ahab: Reader Visualization in Moby-Dick
Laura Blunk
Dr. Sarah Mohler, Faculty Mentor

Adapted repeatedly for the stage and screen, Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is a beloved novel, chiefly because the author's descriptive writing assists readers in envisioning his story. Utilizing techniques that stimulate readers' mental imagery, Melville successfully creates three-dimensional people that inhabit a tangible world. Described by Harvard literature professor Elaine Scarry and psychologist Stephen Kosslyn, the methods that Melville uses to promote reader visualization include the construction, manipulation, and maintenance of mental images. This paper will focus on "The Symphony," a chapter near the novel's end in which Captain Ahab reveals to Starbuck, his first mate, the extent of his obsession with chasing the White Whale. Without experiencing this scene through full visualization, readers would lose much of the complexity of Ahab's motivations. By considering specific examples from the chapter, this paper will examine the literary and psychological methods by which Melville makes his novel come alive in his readers' imaginations.

Keywords: Visualization, Mental Images, Elaine Scarry, Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 203-4
Location: VH 1320
Time: 10:15

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