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How Literature Changes Lives

Transformative Reading is an empirical cognitive approach to literature, based on a scientific model of literary reading. It focuses on experiencing literature and argues that the essence of literature (and the arts) lies in its power to impart knowledge about ourselves and other human beings by allowing us to connect more deeply and conscientiously with our emotions, improving our social functioning.

On this website you find information about how the model inspired an evidence-based program that fosters learners’ cognitive and emotional capacities (such as empathy), enabling them to gain insights into self and others and eudaimonic reasons for reading.

Today, Transformative Reading is an educational program at primary and higher secondary levels and in business (leadership). I am currently developing it for Medical Ethics Education to enhance moral learning.

If you’re hoping to implement the program at your school or at the corporate sector, I’ll provide you with sound advice and professional guidance every step of the way. I also offer individual consultation. Take a look at my site and see all that I can do for you.

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Olivia Fialho

Creator and convenor of Transformative Reading teaching and research

I am Assistant Professor in Comparative Literature at Utrecht University and Senior Researcher in Empirical and Computational Literary Studies at Huygens ING - KNAW (Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences) in Amsterdam.

I hold a BA in Letters (2003) and an MA in Applied Linguistics (with honours, 2005), both from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. In 2005, I was awarded the prestigious FS Chia Scholarship (FGSR, University of Alberta) to pursue a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta. In 2012, I defended my PhD dissertation on self-modifying reading - or how literature changes perceptions of the self. In 2014, I helped acquire a grant by NWO (The Dutch Research Council, approx. 800.000 euros), together with a team of colleagues in media studies, educational sciences, and organisational psychology, to continue research on the impact of literature on changing perceptions of the self and of others. This award funded my postdoctoral research in empirical literary studies at the Department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University, where I developed the scientific basis of transformative reading for application in two social contexts - education and the workplace. In 2019, I was appointed postdoctoral researcher by the Literature, Cognition and Emotions teaching and research hub at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages at the University of Oslo.

I have over 15 years of research-intensive teaching, with societal impact. My research has provided a sound theoretical-empirical model of transformative reading that has inspired the design of innovative educational programs of literature teaching in three areas:

  • Education (primary, secondary, higher)

  • Business (leadership)

  • Medical ethics 

As an Educational Consultant, I believe in maintaining a positive mindset, creating partnerships with a purpose, and always striving for significant outcomes. When you work with me, you should expect a collaboration with transparency and consistency. Want to learn more? Contact me today for an initial consultation.

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