In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry constantly sees a Grim throughout the book. A grim is a dark omen that typically foreshadows pending death. Harry struggles to process these grim omens, and so does the reader.
All of which raises the question: Does death foreshadowing change the way you view a story? Does it prepare you for the emotional impact of death, and allow you to process it fully? Or does it diminish the impact of death by making it less shocking?
HCAT is interested in how stories impact lay attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. In particular, we have been conducting message experiments to examine how death narratives impact cancer-related attitudes and behaviors. Our first publication in this research line was recently published in Journal of Health Communication. In that study, we assigned adults to read stories where the main character lives (survivor condition) or dies (death condition) following a diagnosis of melanoma.
Jensen, J. D., Yale, R. N., Krakow, M., John, K. K., & King, A. J. (2017). Theorizing foreshadowed death narratives: Examining the impact of character death on narrative processing and SSE intention. Journal of Health Communication, 22(1), 84-93.