Full Text


Gerhild Nieding


Which elements of films, novels, or plays are able to produce suspense in the viewer or reader? (We will use the term “viewer” in the rest of this entry to cover viewers, readers, and users.) This question immediately indicates that the concept of suspense has to be treated on multiple levels because it is a multilayered phenomenon. First, suspense is a cognitive-emotional strategy in the dramaturgy of a written, auditive, audiovisual, or performed “text,” which usually possesses a narrative structure. Second, the recipient has to be able to experience the suspense potential of this text. In order to manage this task, her or his cognitive architecture and socio-emotional as well as motivational makeup have to fulfill specific prerequisites. Finally, if the suspense construction has achieved its effect, the question that follows is which processes take place in the viewer. Usually cognitive analyses of suspense phenomena are carried out by focusing either on the text, as a calculated structural proposal for →  information processing by the viewer, or on the viewer's reception process. The best-studied case for a suspense-evoking text is a film telling a single narrative, prototypically a thriller in the style of Alfred Hitchcock. This prototype also defines a single genre: suspense (→  Film Genres ). But →  Television serials like 24 also unfold a broad range of (new) suspense-inducing ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top