Cognition, Literature, and History: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Cognition, Literature, and History

1st Edition

Edited by Mark J. Bruhn, Donald R. Wehrs


284 pages

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Cognition, Literature, and History models the ways in which cognitive and literary studies may collaborate and thereby mutually advance. It shows how understanding of underlying structures of mind can productively inform literary analysis and historical inquiry, and how formal and historical analysis of distinctive literary works can reciprocally enrich our understanding of those underlying structures. Applying the cognitive neuroscience of categorization, emotion, figurative thinking, narrativity, self-awareness, theory of mind, and wayfinding to the study of literary works and genres from diverse historical periods and cultures, the authors argue that literary experience proceeds from, qualitatively heightens, and selectively informs and even reforms our evolved and embodied capacities for thought and feeling. This volume investigates and locates the complex intersections of cognition, literature, and history in order to advance interdisciplinary discussion and research in poetics, literary history, and cognitive science.


"Taken together, the twelve essays in Cognition, Literature and History make a strong case for an integration of an evolutionary view of the human mind and cognition and a historical consideration of the mind’s elaborate products such as literary texts." - Ana Margarida Abrantes, Journal of Literary Theory

Table of Contents

Introduction: Integrating the Study of Cognition, Literature, and History Mark J. Bruhn Part I: Kinds of (Literary) Cognition: Cognitive Genre Theory and History 1. Melodies of Mind: Poetic Forms as Cognitive Structures David Duff 2. Toward a Cognitive Sociology of Genres Michael Sinding 3. Novelty, Canonicity, and Competing Simulations in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Nancy Easterlin 4. Reassessing the Concept of Ideology Transfer: On Evolved Cognitive Tendencies in the Literary Reception Process Katja Mellmann Part II: The Moral of the Story: Affective Narratology 5. Conceptual Blending, Embodied Well-Being, and the Making of Twelfth-Century Secular Literature Donald R. Wehrs 6. Maternity, Morality, and Metaphor: Galdos’ Dona Perfecta, Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba, and Andalusian Culture Thomas Blake 7. National Identity, Narrative Universals, and Guilt: Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing Patrick Colm Hogan Part III: Perceiving Others and Narrating Selves: Theories of Mind and Literature 8. The Phenomenology of Person Perception Joel Krueger 9. The Mind of a Pícaro: Lázaro de Tormes Howard Mancing 10. Fiction as a Cognitive Challenge: Explorations into Alternative Forms of Selfhood and Experience Marina Grishakova Part IV: A Culture of Science and a Science of Culture: Theory and History of Cognitive (Literary) Studies 11. Romantic Reflections: Toward a Cultural History of Introspection in Mind Science Mark J. Bruhn 12. Toward a Science of Criticism: Aesthetic Values, Human Nature, and the Standard of Taste Mark Collier Epilogue: Literary Theory and Cognitive Studies Donald R. Wehrs

About the Editors

Mark J. Bruhn is Professor of English at Regis University. His recent studies of literary cognition include two articles in a 2011 special double-issue of Poetics Today on "Exchange Values: Poetics and Cognitive Science," which he guest-edited, and a chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Literary Studies.

Donald R. Wehrs is Hargis Professor of British Literature at Auburn University, editor of Levinas and Twentieth-Century Literature (Delaware, 2013), co-editor (with David P. Haney) of Levinas and Nineteenth-Century Literature (Delaware, 2009), and author of three monographs on 20th-century African fiction and over thirty essays on critical theory and comparative literature.

About the Series

Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature

This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to literary studies, it engages with topics such as philosophy, science, race, gender, film, music, and ecology. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Mind & Body
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology