Emily Troscianko: "Cognitive science and literary studies”

Högre seminariet i litteraturvetenskap i samarbete med Forum för medicinsk humaniora och samhällsvetenskap

FD Emily T. Troscianko, TORCH, University of Oxford: "Cognitive science and literary studies”

The early days of cognitive literary studies involved a lot of disciplinary genuflection: taking findings readymade from Science in order to understand literature better. There are now more signs of the exchange flowing both ways, yielding new questions and answers for the study of minds as well as of texts. Mark Bruhn's 2015 article 'A mirror on the mind: Stevens, chiasmus, and autism spectrum disorder' does this reciprocity beautifully: starting from an observation of a parallel between critical responses to Wallace Stevens and language processing in autism, proposing a literary/linguistic feature to explain the similarity (chiasmus), and using detailed close readings to generate both new insights into Wallace's poetics and new empirical methods for investigating open questions in autism research. This session explores Bruhn's article and a poem to be read alongside it.

Article: Mark J. Bruhn, "A Mirror on the Mind"
Poem: Wallace Stevens, Some friends from Pascagoula

About the lecturer
Emily Troscianko has a background in cognitive literary studies, investigating readers' psychological responses to fiction; her first monograph, Kafka's Cognitive Realism (Routledge, 2014) focused on the strange phenomenon of the 'Kafkaesque'. This interest in the effects of literary reading led to a project exploring the relationships between fiction-reading and mental illness: a partnership with the UK eating-disorders charity Beat has generated rich survey data on these connections to form the basis for experimental investigation. As well as coauthoring a textbook on consciousness, Emily also writes a blog about eating disorders, called 'A Hunger Artist', for the US website Psychology Today, and is developing an app to support recovery from anorexia.


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