In the last few decades, literary critics have increasingly drawn insights from cognitive neuroscience to deepen and clarify our understanding of literary representations of mind. This cognitive turban has been equally generative and contentious. While cognitive literary studies has reinforced how central the concept of mind is to aesthetic practice from the classical period to the present, critics have questioned its literalism and selective borrowing of scientific authority. Mindful Aesthetics presents both these perspectives as part of a broader consideration of the ongoing and vital importance of shifting concepts of mind to both literary and critical practice.
This collection contributes to the forging of a 'new interdisciplinarity,' to paraphrase Alan Richardson's recent preface to the Neural Sublime, that is more concerned with addressing how, rather than why, we should navigate the increasingly narrow gap between the humanities and the sciences.
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About the Author
Chris Danta is Senior Lecturer in English in the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales, Australia. He is the author of Literature Suspends Death: Sacrifice and Storytelling in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot (2011) and the coeditor of Strong Opinions: J. M. Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction (2011). He has also published essays in New Literary History, Angelaki, Textual Practice, Modernism/modernity, SubStance and Literature & Theology.
Helen Groth is an Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow in the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She is the author of Victorian Photography and Literary Nostalgia (2003), Moving Images: Nineteenth-Century Reading and Screen Practices (2013) and with Natalya Lusty, Dreams and Modernity: A Cultural History (2013).
Table of Contents
Introduction: Between Minds
Chris Danta and Helen Groth
Section One: Theoria
Chapter 1. Psychology and Literature: Mindful Close Reading
Chapter 2. Vitalism and Theoria
Chapter 3. Continental Drift: The Clash Between Literary Theory and Cognitive Literary Studies
Chapter 4. Thinking with the World: Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello
Section Two: Minds in History
Chapter 5. 'The brain is a book which reads itself': Cultured Brains and Reductive
Materialism from Diderot to J. J. C. Smart
Charles T. Wolfe
Chapter 6. Muted Literary Minds: James Sully, George Eliot and Psychologised
Aesthetics in the Nineteenth Century
Chapter 7. The Mind as Palimpsest: Art, Dreaming and James Sully's Aesthetics of
Chapter 8. The Flame's Lover: The Modernist Mind of William Carlos Williams
Section Three: Contemporary Literary Minds
Chapter 9. 'The Creation of Space': Narrative Strategies, Group Agency, and Skill in Lloyd Jones's The Book of Fame
John Sutton and Evelyn Tribble
Chapter 10. Reproductive Aesthetics
Chapter 11. Distended Moments in Neuronarrative: Character Consciousness and the Cognitive Sciences in Ian McEwan's Saturday
Chapter 12. A Loose Democracy of the Skull: Characterology and Neuroscience