Research Spotlight: Angus Fletcher
Each month, the Communications Team reaches out to members of the Department of English faculty and asks them to elaborate on a current research or creative project they are working on or have recently completed. For this month, we asked Professor Angus Fletcher about his project on optimism and modern movie fairytales.
In your own words, as the expert that you are, can you explain the overview of your project?
I'm running a study with the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania to explore whether modern movie fairytales might have a dampening effect on optimism because they exchange the luck-based storyworlds of the early modern fairytales found in Giovanni Francesco Straparola's The Playful Nights with storyworlds that turn on poetic justice, innate virtue and other forms of a priori morality.
Now, could you shorten this description into one sentence that uses accessible language?
We're using brain scanners to figure out whether Disney movies like Frozen and Monana make you feel good in the short-term but bum you out in the long-term.
In what ways is your research significant?
It offers a way to rethink whether popular stories are good for you. Instead of focusing on the way that movies represent happiness, or virtue, or justice, we're exploring how narrative structures can contribute in invisible ways to mental health and flourishing.
Are you working with any colleagues or collaborators (e.g. grad students)?
All my collaborators on this are faculty and graduate students at UPenn. Because they're the ones with the scientific equipment.
Is the project being funded or supported by any individuals or organizations that you would like us to acknowledge?
It's being funded by UPenn's Positive Psychology Center.
Where do you see this project going in the future?
Hopefully, a large-scale study, involving a big group of study participants.
What's next for you? What would you like to work on once this project is completed?
I'd like to use science to prove that more people should be reading Mrs. Dalloway.