Literature, Social Wisdom, and Global Justice
Developing Systems Thinking through Literary Study
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This book responds to the pressing and increasingly recognized need to cultivate social wisdom for addressing major problems confronting humanity. Connecting literary studies with some of the biggest questions confronted by researchers and students today, the book provides a practical approach to thinking through, and potentially solving, global problems such as poverty, inequality, crime, war, racism, classism, environmental decline, and climate change.
Bracher argues that solving such problems requires “systems thinking” and that literary study is an excellent way to develop the four key cognitive functions of which systems thinking is composed, which are causal analysis, prospection/strategic planning, social cognition, and metacognition.
Drawing on evidence-based learning theory, as well as the latest research on systems thinking and its four cognitive functions, the book provides a comprehensive and detailed explanation of how these advanced thinking skills can be developed through literary study, illustrating the process with numerous examples from major works of literature.
In explaining the nature and importance of these thinking skills and the ability of literary study to develop them, this book will be of value to literature teachers and students from introductory to advanced levels, and to anyone looking to develop better problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Systems Thinking as the Core of Social Wisdom
Chapter Two: How to Educate for Wisdom: Developing Mental Models of Causality
Chapter Three: Developing Mental Models of Causality by Reading Literature
Chapter Four: Principles of a Wisdom-Cultivating Literary Pedagogy
Chapter Five: Faulty Causal Analysis and Its Harmful Consequences
Chapter Six: Causal Analysis I: Proximal, Distal, and Root Causes of Problems
Chapter Seven: Causal Analysis II: System Openness and Dynamism
Chapter Eight: Causal Analysis III: Causal Loops
Chapter Nine: Faulty Prospection and its Harmful Consequences
Chapter Ten: Developing Adequate Prospection
Chapter Eleven: Social Cognition I: Situational Causes of Behavior and Life Outcomes
Chapter Twelve: Social Cognition II: Environmental Causes of Character
Chapter Thirteen: Social Cognition III: Human Nature as a Root Cause of Character
Chapter Fourteen: Metacognition: Developing an Accurate Mental Model of Oneself
Mark Bracher is Professor of English and Director of the Neurocognitive Research Program for the Advancement of the Humanities (NRPAH) at Kent State University, USA. He has published widely on literary study as a means of promoting personal well-being and social justice.