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06 April 2010 @ 12:59 pm
posting for later, or something  
I feel like I should read these, but I'm just too tired and keyed up about other stuff right now:

"Next Big Thing in English: Knowing They Know That You Know"

and a blog about the article, featuring responses from several critics:

ETA: Austenblog indicates that there is some discussion of Jane Austen somewhere in the article (wasn't Austen the author under discussion during another one of these neuro-crit articles?), and also provides a link to another article, about the healing power of Jane Austen (and fiction more generally):
Valancy: BeekerMeep!valancy_s on April 8th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)

My dad said this to me years ago. He's a consultant who does school improvement (at the primary and high school level) and he's fascinated by studies of the brain. He was like: "[Valancy], you should write about this brain research and relate it to literature. It will be big. This is the next big thing." YEARS AGO! And he has no clue about what we actually do as lit scholars!
tempestsarekind: ophelia has so few optionstempestsarekind on April 8th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
Wow, your dad is prescient!

I'm not sure I understand neuro-lit crit, though. (Possibly it would help if I'd read the article, but I have read other popular accounts of it.) Even supposing I can now say that a particular bit of my brain lights up when I read a particular bit of Austen, I...feel like I probably knew that already? I already know that I find Austen extremely pleasurable, that thinking about her fictional representations of people allows me to experience empathy, etc. What I need to figure out is *how* the novels make that happen. And for that, I need my trusty bag of old-fashioned tools of literary analysis.
Valancyvalancy_s on April 8th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
Well, that's the thing exactly. My Dad told me I should use neuroscience to talk about literature, but he had no particular recommendation as to how, and when I sat down and thought about it - because it is interesting science - I had no idea how, either. And frankly, looking at this article, the critics using it have no idea how either.

What's the point in determining how literature can be 'therapeutic' or whatever? That's productive if you're a psychologist but not productive as a literary theorist. As you say, if you could identify certain types or techniques of writing with certain brain responses, maaaybe that's applicable to both disciplines, but on the literary end it's not really different than, say, theories of sympathy. I feel like there could be a cool and useful connection between cognitive science and literary study, but this doesn't look like it.

Edited at 2010-04-08 04:27 pm (UTC)
tempestsarekind: ofelia readingtempestsarekind on April 8th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
That tends to be my take on it, too: what, exactly, am I supposed to be doing with this information? Learning more about how the brain works = good. Learning more about how literature works = also good. But I don't see how the former leads to the latter.