Vera Tobin

Elements of Surprise / Publications / Teaching / CV

“Narrative and Plot: Unreliable Feelings and the Risks of Surprise.” In The Routledge Companion to Literature and Emotion. Ed. Patrick Colm Hogan. Routledge.

Unreliable narration has historically received attention in literary studies primarily as an element of narrative discourse, as part of the “rhetoric of fiction.” Creative writing manuals and film studies have both been more alert to uses of unreliability as a device in service of plot, particularly as a tool for engineering credible sources of surprise. This chapter surveys the historical use and reception of deceptive unreliability as a conventional element in surprise narratives, together with findings in the cognitive science of emotion, predictive processing, and social interaction, to propose a unified analysis of unreliability as a device for both incurring and managing emotional risk.