Strange Concepts and the Stories They Make Possible: Cognition, Culture, Narrative [NOOK Book]

Overview

In this fresh and often playful interdisciplinary study, Lisa Zunshine presents a fluid discussion of how key concepts from cognitive science complicate our cultural interpretations of "strange" literary phenomena.

From Short Circuit to I, Robot, from The Parent Trap to Big Business, fantastic tales of rebellious robots, animated artifacts, and twins mistaken for each other are a permanent fixture in popular culture and have been since antiquity. Why do these strange concepts ...

See more details below
Strange Concepts and the Stories They Make Possible: Cognition, Culture, Narrative

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$18.99
BN.com price
(Save 29%)$27.00 List Price

Overview

In this fresh and often playful interdisciplinary study, Lisa Zunshine presents a fluid discussion of how key concepts from cognitive science complicate our cultural interpretations of "strange" literary phenomena.

From Short Circuit to I, Robot, from The Parent Trap to Big Business, fantastic tales of rebellious robots, animated artifacts, and twins mistaken for each other are a permanent fixture in popular culture and have been since antiquity. Why do these strange concepts captivate the human imagination so thoroughly? Zunshine explores how cognitive science, specifically its ideas of essentialism and functionalism, combined with historical and cultural analysis, can help us understand why we find such literary phenomena so fascinating.

Drawing from research by such cognitive evolutionary anthropologists and psychologists as Scott Atran, Paul Bloom, Pascal Boyer, and Susan A. Gelman, Zunshine examines the cognitive origins of the distinction between essence and function and how unexpected tensions between these two concepts are brought into play in fictional narratives. Discussing motifs of confused identity and of twins in drama, science fiction’s use of robots, cyborgs, and androids, and nonsense poetry and surrealist art, she reveals the range and power of key concepts from science in literary interpretation and provides insight into how cognitive-evolutionary research on essentialism can be used to study fiction as well as everyday strange concepts.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Zeitschrift fuer Anglistik und Amerikanistik
The book is stylistically well-written and features interesting readings of various texts.

— Marcus Hartner

Philosophy and Literature

The author gives herself a refreshingly modest assignment: to demonstrate that a certain cognitive predisposition has contributed to the development of, and continued interest in, specific literary motifs that occur across a wide variety of cultures. This is all that she tries to do, and she does it very well.

Cercles
Zunshine renders the book accessible to the general reader.

— Aristie Trendel

SubStance
Zunshine’s scholarship here and elsewhere is boldly exploratory.

— Frederick Luis Aldama

Zeitschrift fuer Anglistik und Amerikanistik - Marcus Hartner

The book is stylistically well-written and features interesting readings of various texts.

Cercles - Aristie Trendel

Zunshine renders the book accessible to the general reader.

Substance - Frederick Luis Aldama

Zunshine’s scholarship here and elsewhere is boldly exploratory.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421406701
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 232
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Lisa Zunshine is a professor of English at the University of Kentucky and author of Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Pt. 1 "But what am I, then?" Chasing Personal Essences across National Literatures

1 Ural Mountains-Rome-London 1

2 Essentialism, Functionalism, and Cognitive Psychology 6

3 Possible Evolutionary Origins of Essentialist Thinking 13

4 "A bullet's a bullet's a bullet!" 15

5 Talk to the Door Politely or Tickle It in Exactly the Right Place 17

6 Resisting Essentialism 19

7 The Ever-Receding "Essence" of Sosia 23

8 Identical Twins and Theater 30

9 How Is Mr. Darcy Different from Colin Firth? 37

10 Looking for the Real Mademoiselle 42

11 "Mahatma Gandhi: war!" "But he was a pacifist." "Right! War!" 48

Pt. 2 Why Robots Go Astray, or The Cognitive Foundations of the Frankenstein Complex

1 What Is the Frankenstein Complex? 51

2 On Zygoons, Thricklers, and Kerpas 55

3 Theory of Mind 57

4 Theory of Mind and Categorization: Preliminary Implications 63

5 Concepts That Resist Categorization 65

6 ... and the Stories They Make Possible 68

7 The Stories That Can Be Told about a Talking Needle 72

8 Asimov's "The Bicentennial Man" 75

9 Cognitive Construction of "Undoubted Facts": "The Bicentennial Man" and the Logic of Essentialism 79

10 Made to Rebel 85

11 Why Phyllis Is Still a Robot 89

12 ... and Why Rei Toei Is Not 96

13 More Human Than Thou (Piercy's He, She and It) 100

14 Made to Pray 116

15 Made to Serve. Made to Obey. Made to Break Hearts 122

Pt. 3 Some Species of Nonsense

1 How Nonsense Makes Sense in The Hunting of the Snark 133

2 "Strings of Impossibilia" and What They Tell Us about the Value of Nonsense 141

3 "Painters of the Unimaginable," or More about Really Strange Concepts 146

Conclusion: Almost beyond Fiction166

Notes 173

Bibliography 195

Index 207

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)