Iconic relations of sound and emotional meaning in poetry

Are there affective sounds in poetry that differ between joyful and sad poems? Or, in other words, is there a connection between sound and meaning in poetry – a phenomenon often referred to today by the term "phonological iconicity"? What makes us feel or know that a poem is sad or joyful? And can we tell the difference even if we don't understand the language in which the poem is written?
This PhD project aims at gaining new insights into the potential relationship between sound and meaning in poetry, and examines whether phonological iconicity can be understood as a cross-linguistic phenomenon.

A third focus of this project is the question of whether joyful poems are evaluated differently than sad poems, and whether such content-dependent appraisals hold true for different forms of aesthetic appreciation.


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Kraxenberger, M., Menninghaus, W., Roth, A., & Scharinger, M. (2018). Prosody-Based Sound-Emotion Associations in Poetry. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1284. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01284

Kraxenberger, M., & Mennighaus, W. (2018). Mimologische Träumereien? Über ikonische Assoziationen von Klang und Gefühlswahrnehmung in Gedichten. In D. Scherf & A. Bertschi-Kaufmann (Eds.), Ästhetische Rezeptionsprozesse aus didaktischer Perspektive (pp. 72–88). Weinheim, Basel: Beltz Juventa.

Kraxenberger, M. (2017). On Sound-Emotion Associations in Poetry. (Doctoral dissertation), Freie Universität Berlin.

Kraxenberger, M., & Menninghaus, W. (2016). Emotional effects of poetic phonology, word positioning and dominant stress peaks in poetry reading. Scientific Study of Literature, 6(2), 298–313.  doi:10.1075/ssol.6.2.06kra

Kraxenberger, M., & Menninghaus, W. (2016). Mimological Reveries? Disconfirming the Hypothesis of Phono-Emotional Iconicity in Poetry. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(1779). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01779

Aryani, A., Kraxenberger, M., Ullrich, S., Jacobs, A. M., & Conrad, M. (2015). Measuring the Basic Affective Tone of Poems via Phonological Saliency and Iconicity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, No Pagination Specified. doi:10.1037/aca0000033