First, apologies for very limited posting, and thanks to those who offered condolances and support after my last post. It has been a very challenging month or so, and it is not over yet. I just got back from recording another course for Recorded Books' Modern Scholar series (A Way with Words 2: Understanding and Discussing Literature) and still have to finish that course book as well as many other things.
But I wanted to publicize this Call for Papers for Kalamazoo that just came in over ANSAX-net, both because it looks fascinating and because I think this kind of approach is exactly where the action is likely to be in literary studies in the near future. Unfortunately, my own work in this area is probably not yet advanced enough to have an abstract ready to submit (neuroscience turns out to be really hard: who knew?), but hopefully some of you readers are further along. So, kudos to Ron Ganze. I know one session at Kzoo 2008 that I will definitely be attending.
International Medieval Congress 2008
Call for Papers: Cognitive Approaches to the Medieval Texts
The use of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology in literary criticism has increased exponentially in the last decade; several monographs and essay collections on the subject have appeared, and entire issues of journals, both in literary studies and in the cognitive sciences, have been dedicated to the study of literature using a cognitive approach. We are also beginning to see conferences dedicated to the cognitive study of literature, with at least two national conferences in 2006 alone.
This approach has important implications for the study of medieval literature and culture, as it both supplements and acts as a corrective to the predominant social constructionist model through which we usually read texts and their characters. In some very important ways, it opens the medieval texts to understandings and interpretations that the social constructionist model often closes off, and calls into question some of the assumptions made by both medievalists and theorists about the nature of the self. It also provides a useful way of understanding narrative, as cognitive psychology and neuroscience now understand the impulse to narrative as hard-wired into the human brain, and as the primary means by which we make sense of reality.
This session seeks to bring work in this area to the Middle Ages and to the attention of medievalists, who may find this new approach useful and illuminating. Papers on such topics as the neurology of narrative, the impact of cognitive approaches to literature on perceptions of medieval authorship or the medieval sense of self, and particularly papers investigating similarities between medieval psychological models and those forwarded by cognitive psychology are welcome, though the panel need not be limited to these subjects.
Email submissions preferred (MS Word—save as Word 2003 or earlier—or rich text format, please). Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent by September 1, 2007, to Ronald J. Ganze at one of the following addresses:
(before August 10):
Department of English
1409 Chapel Drive
Valparaiso, IN 46383
(after August 10):
Department of English
212 Dakota Hall
University of South Dakota
414 E. Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069-2390