Rethinking Therapeutic Reading

Rethinking Therapeutic Reading

Lessons from Seneca, Montaigne, Wordsworth and George Eliot

By Kelda Green

Through a combination of literary criticism and experimental psychology ‘Rethinking Therapeutic Reading’ reconsiders the role that serious literary reading might play in the real world, reclaiming literature as a vital tool for dealing with human troubles.

EPUB, 250 Pages


June 2020

£25.00, $40.00

PDF, 250 Pages


June 2020

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents

About This Book

‘Rethinking Therapeutic Reading’ uses a combination of literary criticism and experimental psychology to examine the ways in which literature can create therapeutic spaces in which to do personal thinking. It reconsiders the role that serious literary reading might play in the real world, reclaiming literature as a vital tool for dealing with human troubles.

Part one of the book analyses the work of four representative authors: the Roman philosopher and tragedian Seneca; the sixteenth-century French essayist Montaigne in his own reading of Seneca; the Romantic poet Wordsworth, another reader of Seneca, lauded by nineteenth-century readers as a poetic healer of human troubles; and the Victorian novelist George Eliot, a reader of Wordsworth, seen in the later nineteenth century as Wordsworth’s heir in offering through literature a vision of the transmutation of sorrow.

These four figures are each connected and committed to areas of thinking which today might be categorised primarily as belonging to the field of therapeutic psychology. Part one explores the therapeutic models contained within the work of each author and demonstrates how different literary forms can offer important and useful ways of thinking about human troubles, health and well-being, progress and repair.

Part two sets out the results of three practical reading experiments, particularly concerned with reading Wordsworth and George Eliot. Designed to examine what it is that literature can do to and for modern readers, these experiments provide primary evidence to support the argument that serious literary reading has an important and potentially therapeutic function in modern society. Using innovative methodologies and interdisciplinary analysis, part two tests the models identified in part one and through grounded theory investigates the kinds of thinking within individuals that can be triggered by serious reading. The aim here is to bridge the gap between theory and practice and lay the foundations for the development of literary-based therapeutic interventions.


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Author Information

Kelda Green completed her PhD at the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society in 2018.


Anthem Studies in Bibliotherapy and Well-Being

Table of Contents

Introduction; Part One: Four Models; I. Senecan Tragedy and Stoic Philosophy; II. Therapy and the Essay: Montaigne, after Seneca; III. Therapy and Poetry: Wordsworth, after Seneca; IV. Therapy and the Novel: George Eliot, after Wordsworth; Part Two: Three Experiments; V. Experiment One: First Impressions; VI. Experiment Two: Slowing Down and Tuning In; VII. Experiment Three: Writing Back; Conclusion; Index.

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