The verse-line as a whole unit in working memory, ease of processing, and the aesthetic effects of form

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Verse, defined as a spoken or written text divided into lines, is often assigned high cultural value. This paper argues that metrical and parallelistic verse texts are processed line-­‐by-­‐line in working memory. Treatment of the line as a whole unit is necessary for the processing of the regular patterned forms which hold of the verse. In turn, these regular patterned forms make the processing of the text easer and produce other effects which have been experimentally shown to produce interconnected low-­‐level aesthetic effects of pleasure, familiarity and truth. This may in part explain why verse is often given a higher cultural value than prose, and hence why verse is found throughout the spoken and written literatures of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-50
Number of pages22
JournalRoyal Institute of Philosophy Supplement
Early online date3 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • verse
  • working memory
  • working memory capacity
  • verbal behaviour

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