Attention and Mind-Wandering in Contemporary German Children’s and Young Adult Metafiction


  • Amandus Hopfgarten
  • Theresa Krampe


In this article, we draw upon cognitive sciences, narratology, and media studies to investigate the interrelation between metafiction, attention, and mind-wandering in two works of German children’s and young adult metafiction: Michael Ende’s Die unendliche Geschichte (The Neverending Story) from 1979 and Cornelia Funke’s Tintenherz (Inkheart) published in 2003. Both works are attention narratives in that they employ textual strategies such as foregrounding, metalepsis, narratorial commentary, or intermedial references to guide their readers’ attention and point them to aspects of their mediality. Moreover, we explore metafiction’s effects on mind-wandering, that is, moments in which our minds stray from the here and now to engage in introspective thought and imagination. We contend that metafiction, due to its high attentional demands, can reduce the overall frequency and duration of mind-wandering, but that it can also, on the other hand, facilitate text-related mind-wandering, associated with productive, on-task reflections and meta-awareness.