Saturday, December 31, 2005

Cognitive literary studies

Every year the American Modern Language Association stages a conference where English professors and students from all over the US gather to discuss the state of literary criticism and theory. Think Society for Neuroscience, if you need a comparison.

This year, as Nick Gillespie tells us in this report, the talk focused on cognitive approaches to the study of literature. The old paradigm - postmodernism or whatever you would like to call it - seems to be in decline. Will a cognitive approach be the next big thing?

Well, since literary texts are composed of string of words, and since it takes the processing of neurocognitive mechanisms to make sense of such strings of words, we should certainly hope so! Still, personally I wouldn't hold my breath. It is, though, heartening to see that a few valiant cognitivists are trying to break the anti-biological spell of modern lit-crit.

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