Immersion in Digital Fiction


  • Alice Bell Sheffield Hallam University
  • Astrid Ensslin University of Alberta
  • Isabelle van der Bom Sheffield Hallam University
  • Jen Smith Sheffield Hallam University



Cognitive Poetics, Narrative, Narratology, Immersion, Embodiment, Digital Fiction, Reader Response, Stylistics, Deixis


In this article, we profile an empirically grounded, cognitive approach to immersion in digital fiction by combining text-driven stylistic analysis with insights from theories of cognition and reader-response research. We offer a new analytical method for immersive features in digital fiction by developing deictic shift theory for the affordances of digital media. We also provide empirically substantiated insights to show how immersion is experienced cognitively by using Andy Campbell and Judi Alston’s (2015) digital fiction piece WALLPAPER as a case study. We add ‘interactional deixis’ and ‘audible deixis’ to Stockwell’s (2002) model to account for the multimodal nature of immersion in digital fiction. We also show how extra-textual features can contribute to immersion and thus propose that they should be accounted for when analysing immersion across media. We conclude that the analytical framework and reader response protocol that we develop here can be adapted for application to texts across media.