Literary studies have recently been contextualized with insights in cutting edge cognitive research, forming an innovative field of “cognitive literary and cultural studies” (cf. Herman 2011, Zunshine 2008). In continuation and variation of earlier semiotic approaches, possible worlds theory, and reception theories (reader response, constructivism), this recent approach concentrates on representations of mental activities in literary texts, as well as on the way that readers react to literary characters: when, how, and why do readers empathize with fictional figures? And which cognitive processes of a “real” reader are responsible for her to arguably rehearse actual situations by virtual, mimetic models?
The suggested panel intends to historicize the present approach. It invites to survey 18th-century responses to literature, and to contextualize such responses with contemporary theories of reception, perception, and models of cognition. A particularly rich source for analysis may be found in periodical literature and specifically formatted review literature, as well as in diaries and letters discussing subjective, cognitive and emotional responses to reading texts and watching performances. It will be particularly rewarding to read these responses in relation to the circulating theories of mind, as they were discussed in (natural) philosophy, (anatomical) medicine and physiology.
Possible topics may include, but are not restricted to:
Eighteenth-century “Theories of Mind”: medical models and their application to / transformation in criticism
Review literature as (implicit/explicit) construction of cognition
Periodicals (Spectator, Idler, Rambler, Bee, etc.) as a performative strategy of processing, and representing, different ways of active or passive cognition
Poets vs Critics / Poets as Critics / Poets, Critics, and the “Common Reader”: Different Mind-sets?
Fashioning and practising criticism in the critical works of Dryden, Pope, Johnson, Goldsmith, Hartley, etc.
Representing critics and critics’ cognition in the fictional works of Dryden, Pope, Johnson, etc.
This call for papers is preparatory to a panel submission to the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, held at St. Hugh's College, Oxford University, 6-8 Jan 2015. Potential panellists are requested to send their digital abstracts (250 words plus short biogramm), preferably as pdf attachment, by Sept 30th to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jürgen Meyer (English Literary and Cultural Studies, Martin-Luther-University, Germany, email@example.com). The prospective panel will then be submitted to the BSECS conference organization team; notification about acceptance of the panel is to be expected by early November.
Assoc. Prof. Juergen Meyer
English Literary and Cultural Studies
Phone ++49 345 552 3525
Fax ++49 345 552 7272
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