Cognitive Approaches to Literature and Culture

Prof. Dr. Madeleine Danova, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alexandra Bagasheva
Duration: 30 Lectures

This course introduces the students to the newest tendencies in the study of literature and culture coming from the field of cognitive studies. In the last decade or so the way fictional texts are analyzed and interpreted has been transformed by such scientific discoveries as the mirror neuron system and its role in the processes of empathy. They have led to the re-directing of the interest of literary critics from post-structuralism and relativism towards cognitive neuroscience, which examines the ways in which the human brain works, as well as cognition, memory, and the different ways in which we ‘know’ the world together with the role of language in problem-solving and creativity. Although the study of literature and its connection to the human brain and the social context do have a long history, the renewed interest in cognition and its biological underpinnings has spurred the development of a new branch of literary studies, the cognitive one as a result of the creative dialogue with such disciplines as evolutionary psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, cognitive linguistics, anthropology and philosophy. Some of the aspects of these scholarly encounters are what the course aims at discussing in depth.
Class participation: 25%
Assignments: 25%
Term paper: 50 %

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