Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG414H1S L5101

ENG414H1S    L5101   T6-8
Advanced Studies Group 1: Cognitive Approaches to Literature
Instructor: D. Wilton
Office Location: dave.wilton@utoronto.ca

Brief Description of Course: Freudian and other psychological approaches to literature have long been a staple of the critical environment, but beginning in the 1980s and especially in the last two decades scholars have been applying advances in neuroscience and cognitive linguistics to the study of literature. This course will focus on the following areas in this emerging field and their application to literary study:

• Conceptual metaphor theory: constructing perceptions of reality (Lakoff and Johnson)
• Conceptual blending: organizing and processing discourse (Fauconnier and Turner)
• Text world theory: creating and updating mental representations provoked by discourse (Werth and Gavin)
• Cognitive cultural studies: interplay between the brain and its environment (Zunshine)
• Memory and the self: how memory is continually reconstructed into narratives (Bruner)

At stake is the question of whether and what these advances in the cognitive sciences have to offer the study of literature. No prior acquaintance with cognitive studies is expected.

Required Reading: In addition to works on cognitive theory, the reading list tentatively includes literary works, such as “The Seafarer”; Chaucer, “The Franklin’s Tale”; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Austen, Emma; Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Beckett, Waiting for Godot; and Schoemperlen, “Red Plaid Shirt.”

First Three Authors/Texts: TBA.

Method of Evaluation: Short problem paper (15%); seminar presentations (20%); research paper evaluated in stages from proposal through to final paper (50%); participation (15%).

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