Society for Literature and Science
Annual Meeting 1998: Thinking the Brain and Beyond
University of Florida at Gainesville
November 5-8
Literature, History, and Cognition
Special panel organized by Alan Richardson, Boston College

Literary theorists and critics have begun the exciting and important task of forging a dialogue with researchers in the cognitive neurosciences. Recent work by literary scholars like Holland, Tsur, Turner, Spolsky, and Scarry, as well as by their counterparts in cognitive psychology (Gibbs, Rubin), artificial intelligence (Hobbs, Simon), philosopy of mind (Dennett, Johnson), and linguistics (Lakoff, de Beaugrande) has amply demonstrated the promise of such dialogue for research on both sides of the traditional literature/science divide.  Most of the relevant work to date, however, has tended to address in synchronic fashion issues like narrative poetics, figurative language, prosody, literariness, imagery, and the like. There are as yet scarcely any notable attempts to bridge the concerns of literary history with those of the cognitive neurosciences.  This lack is doubly unfortunate. It may be taken as implying that historicist perspectives are incompatible with paradigms or models drawn from the cognitive neurosciences, although this is anything but the case; and it may also discourage attempts to bring historicist and cognitive approaches into constructive engagement simply from the dearth of examples.  This session on "Literature, History, and Cognition" is intended both to bring this problem into focus and to propose some tentative ways forward.


Toward a Neural Historicism 
Alan Richardson

Boston College
2. Cognitive Historicism: "Art Manufactures" and the Exhibition of 1851 Joseph Bizup 
Yale University
Cognitive Cultural Studies index
  Back to Cognitive Cultural Studies
Related Resources:
Blending and Conceptual Integration. Mark Turner's site with links to articles on the subject by a wide variety of scholars.

CogWeb: Cognitive Culture Theory. Francis Steen's site on the relevance of the study of human cognition to literary and cultural studies.

David Miall's home page: resources on literature and psychology, reader-response research, and Romanticism.

Literature, Cognition & the Brain: research at the intersection of literary studies, cognitive theory, and neuroscience. Edited by Mary Crane and Alan Richardson, Boston College.


 Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles