Mindreading as Engagement: Active Spectators and “The Strangers’ Case”

  • Nicholas R. Helms
Part of the Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance book series (CSLP)


Helms argues that mindreading is an engaged process for readers and spectators, for they risk becoming implicated in the creation of characters. While much mindreading can occur automatically and unconsciously, both inference and imagination draw upon the mindreader’s own knowledge and experiences to flesh out the target of mindreading. As such, all literary characters are constructed, in part, from a mindreader’s own mind. Helms illustrates this engagement through Shakespeare’s “The Strangers’ Case,” a monologue that Shakespeare added to Munday and Chettle’s Sir Thomas More. In the monologue, Thomas More uses inference and imagination to persuade a riotous, xenophobic crowd of Londoners to lay down their weapons and adopt the perspectives of the strangers in their city. Shakespeare depicts the power of mindreading to quell strife and to promote compassionate thought.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas R. Helms
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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