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Why Do We Care about Literary Characters?
     

Why Do We Care about Literary Characters?

by Blakey Vermeule
 

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Blakey Vermeule wonders how readers become involved in the lives of fictional characters, people they know do not exist.

This book contributes to the emerging field of evolutionary literary criticism. Vermeule draws upon recent research in cognitive science to understand the mental processes underlying human social interactions without sacrificing solid literary

Overview

Blakey Vermeule wonders how readers become involved in the lives of fictional characters, people they know do not exist.

This book contributes to the emerging field of evolutionary literary criticism. Vermeule draws upon recent research in cognitive science to understand the mental processes underlying human social interactions without sacrificing solid literary criticism. People interested in literary theory, in cognitive analyses of the arts, and in Darwinian approaches to human culture will find much to ponder in Why Do We Care about Literary Characters?

"Wide-ranging and jaunty... Vermeule is a major voice in the effort to bring the insights of cognitive science (especially evolutionary psychology) to bear on topics in eighteenth-century literary studies... We arrive at a new and exciting take on the familiar terrain of the eighteenth-century novel."— Studies in English Literature

"Mind reading, a term oft-circulated within cognitive quarters, refers to the human capacity to infer and keep track of the intentional states of others... Vermule's main contention is that literature refines this skill and helps readers cultivate 'Machiavellian intelligence'—her name for the cognitive advantages that may have evolved in the context of an increasingly complex social order."— Qui Parle

"The book reads as a tour through literary evocations of mindedness, written by someone with a keen sense of texts and a sharp interest in the contemporary intellectual scene. It will be of interest to anyone who cares about what literature can teach us about the way our minds work."—Jonathan Brody Kramnick, Rutgers University

Johns Hopkins University Press

Editorial Reviews

Qui Parle
Mind reading, a term oft-circulated within cognitive quarters, refers to the human capacity to infer and keep track of the intentional states of others... Vermule's main contention is that literature refines this skill and helps readers cultivate 'Machiavellian intelligence'—her name for the cognitive advantages that may have evolved in the context of an increasingly complex social order.

— Michelle Ty

Studies in English Literature
Wide-ranging and jaunty... Vermeule is a major voice in the effort to bring the insights of cognitive science (especially evolutionary psychology) to bear on topics in eighteenth-century literary studies... We arrive at a new and exciting take on the familiar terrain of the eighteenth-century novel.

— Jonathan Kramnick

Qui Parle - Michelle Ty
Mind reading, a term oft-circulated within cognitive quarters, refers to the human capacity to infer and keep track of the intentional states of others... Vermule's main contention is that literature refines this skill and helps readers cultivate 'Machiavellian intelligence'—her name for the cognitive advantages that may have evolved in the context of an increasingly complex social order.

Studies in English Literature - Jonathan Kramnick
Wide-ranging and jaunty... Vermeule is a major voice in the effort to bring the insights of cognitive science (especially evolutionary psychology) to bear on topics in eighteenth-century literary studies... We arrive at a new and exciting take on the familiar terrain of the eighteenth-century novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801893605
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
12/07/2009
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Brody Kramnick
The book reads as a tour through literary evocations of mindedness, written by someone with a keen sense of texts and a sharp interest in the contemporary intellectual scene. It will be of interest to anyone who cares about what literature can teach us about the way our minds work.

Meet the Author

Blakey Vermeule is an associate professor of English at Stanford University and author of The Party of Humanity: Writing Moral Psychology in Eighteenth-Century Britain, also published by Johns Hopkins.

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