The Lechter Institute for Literary Research and

The Lewis Fund for International Conferences

are sponsoring an international conference

The Work of Fiction
Cognitive Perspectives

Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel  

4-7 June 2001

By investigating the work of fiction, we investigate both its purposes and its processes.  What work does it do, and how does it do it?  What cognitive abilities does it mobilize, like or unlike other kinds of cognition?  What can we learn by approaching these questions from a neurological, a computational, an evolutionary, a pedagogical, or a historical/ cultural level? We are particularly interested, at this conference, to explore texts at the high end of the scale of either formal or philosophical complexity, on the assumption that these are the fictions that provide the greatest challenge to the cognitive/ theoretical description of fictions it is our aim to produce. 

Inquiries to Ellen Spolsky at the Lechter Institute.

Conference discussion forum


Preliminary; revised 6 April 2001
Elizabeth Hart
Embodied Genre: The Conceptual Semantics of Shakespeare's Dramatic Types
Paul Hernadi
Trying to Grasp What Grips Us: Nagging Questions about Paradigm Shifts in the Cognition of Fiction
Tony Jackson
Theoretical Ebbs and Flows: Poststructuralism, Cognitive Science, and The Waves
Patrick Colm Hogan
Morality, Literary Exempla, and the Arabic Aristotelians: An Essay on Ethics and Narrative
David S. Miall
A Feeling for Fiction: Becoming What we Behold
David Paxman
Literature as Part of the Cognitive System: Middlemarch
Alan Richardson
A Neuroanatomy of Criticism: Mapping Literary Scholarship on Minds, Texts, and Brains
Ellen Spolsky
Categorizations and Correspondences:
The Crisis of Exemplarity from Cymbeline to Charles I
Francis Steen
Literature as an Evolved Implicit Pedagogy
Meir Sternberg
The Universals of Narrative: Temporalities in Play
Reuven Tsur
and Motti Benari
"Composition of Place", Diffuseness, and the Meditative Poem
Lisa Zunshine
Richardson's Clarissa and the Traps of Mind Reading
Works by conference participants


Preliminary; revised 1 August 2000

David Hanauer
Metaphor Comprehension as Problem Solving:
An On-Line Study of the Reading Process
Meir Sternberg
Cross-Cultural Cognitive Studies of Literature
Francis Steen
Teaching Literature / Literature as Teaching:
Practical Applications of Cognitive Approaches
Lisa Zunshine
Richardson's Clarissa and the Traps of Mind Reading



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