1st Edition

Self-Reflective Fiction and 4E Cognition An Enactive Approach to Literary Artifice

By Merja Polvinen Copyright 2023
    190 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    190 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book brings together the study of self-reflective fiction and the contemporary 4E theories of cognition in order to challenge existing cognitive-theoretical models and approaches to literary phenomena.

    Polvinen presents reflective attention on artifice as an integral part of engagement with fictional narratives, rather than as an external viewpoint that would obscure immersive experiences. The detailed analyses included are both of traditionally metafictional texts by John Barth, A.S. Byatt, Dave Eggers, and Ali Smith, as well as of speculative fictions by Ted Chiang, China Miéville, Christopher Priest, and Catherynne M. Valente. Each of the chapters focuses on a specific issue of fictional cognition: on metaphorical representation, spatiality, temporality, and fictionality. As a whole, the book argues that by combining a literary and theoretically complex view of artifice with the enactive paradigm of perception and imagination, practitioners of cognitive literary studies can further sharpen their own conceptual and terminological apparatus and continue to generate fruitful hermeneutic circulation around the study of the imagination in both the sciences and the humanities.

    This book will appeal to students and scholars interested in cognitive approaches to literary studies, speculative fiction, metafiction, and narrative studies.

    Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: An Enactive Approach to Self-Reflective Fiction
    2. The Metaphorical Seeing-As
    3. 2.1 ‘A Clean, Bright Paradox’: A.S. Byatt’s Self-Conscious Realism in Still Life

      2.2 Speculative Fiction, Self-Reflection and Literal Narratology in Catherynne M. Valente’s ‘Silently and Very Fast’

    4. The Artificial Spatiality of Literary Environments
    5. 3.1 Enactive Perception and Fictional Worlds: China Miéville’s The City & The City

      3.2 Making Space: Affordances and Literary Engagement in Ali Smith’s There but for the

    6. Temporality and Embodied Knowledge

      1. The Speed of Thought in John Barth’s ‘On with the Story’
      2. Self-Reflective Knowledge and Narrative Emotions in Ted Chiang’s ‘Story of Your Life’

    1. Fictionality as Artifice

      1. Affect and Artifice in Dave Eggers’s The Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
      2. Double Vision and the Instrumental Value of Fiction: Christopher Priest’s The Prestige


    Merja Polvinen is Senior Lecturer in English studies and Docent (Associate Professor) in comparative literature at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

    Merja Polvinen’s Self-Reflective Fiction and 4E Cognition productively challenges the idea that immersion in narrative involves losing awareness of literary form. It rethinks the act of reading by combining close discussion of speculative fiction with a sophisticated cognitive theory of narrative.

    - Marco Caracciolo, Associate Professor of English, Ghent University, Belgium

    Fictional worlds that pull you in by showing you how they are made, self-referential narrators and a double-take on perception through literary texts: Drawing on cutting-edge cognitive science and literary studies, Merja Polvinen lifts the curtain on how literature works its magic.

    - Professor Karin Kukkonen, University of Oslo, Norway.