Date of Award

Fall 2016

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Edward J. O'Brien

Second Advisor

Anne E. Cook

Third Advisor

Karla A. Lassonde


Fantasy-text is a genre in which events routinely violate the rules we know to be true in the real-world. In six experiments I explored the inherent conflict between unrealistic fictional events and general world knowledge (GWK) to examine these competing sources of information within the context of extended fantasy-narrative. Experiments I-III demonstrated that fantasy-unrelated violations caused measurable disruption to the comprehension of an extended fantasy narrative despite an abundance of contextual support for real-world impossible events that violate GWK. Experiments IV and V demonstrated that fantasy-related violations caused measurable disruption when they occurred at the local level and the fantasy-context stood in direct opposition to the target sentence. However, Experiment VI demonstrated that measurable disruption can be initially eliminated when readers encountered fantasy-related violations at the global level; but delayed processing difficulty occurred on the spillover sentence, downstream of the target sentence. All six experiments are discussed within the context of the RI-Val model.