Department of English
University of Illinois - Chicago
3/17/04In the talk, I will comb through recent books and articles on the emerging field of Literature & Cognition, and I will comment on the numerous points of convergence critics have discovered between the two fields. My survey will be critical, distinguishing connections that are productive and enlivening, rooted in the materiality of literary production, from those that are gratuitous or merely decorative. My purpose is to define whether a cognitive approach to literary writing is indeed viable, a successor to the strong tradition of hermeneutics and phenomenological approaches that have defined literary study up to now. My criterion for viability will be the following: that cognitive metaphors will let us see and produce more complexity, not less, in literary utterances. What is distinctively literary about a text should be explained by any cognitive model, not explained away by reductivist arguments. During the course of my talk, examples will be offered from print fiction, and also from the newly designed pages of The Electronic Book Review: www.electronicbookreview.com I have myself designed this journal in collaboration with a programmer, a graphic designer, and several student researchers. The first literary website to take full advantage of hypertextuality and database programming, ebr can also demonstrate how cognitive and literary activities can work together, faciliated by a more explicity understanding of the materialities and pathways of contemporary communications. About the suggested reading: This paper will appear in a collection, _The Future of the Page_, edited by Peter Stoicheff and Andrew Taylor for The University of Toronto Press. It will also appear simultaneously as a hypertext in the journal NMEDIAC (_New Media and Culture_), for a special issue edited by Roderick Coover.