Cognitive Melville American Literature Association (San Francisco, May 24-27, 2012)

full name / name of organization: 
Ralph James Savarese/Herman Melville Society
contact email: 

Melville's work is nothing if not a palpable grasping with words: the fingers of cognition investigating themselves. How does Melville use his myriad characters (Billy Budd, Bartleby, Ahab, even Moby Dick), to say nothing of his many allusions (Kaspar Hauser, Peter the Wild Boy, Calvin Edson), to explore different forms of consciousness—from that of the diversely human to that of the diversely more than human? How might neuroscience and disability studies inform not only our individual readings of Melville but also very the act of reading him itself? How might Melville contribute to discussions of embodied thought, emotion, narrative empathy, object and spatial visualization, cerebral lateralization, metaphor, and the like? To what extent does Melville's corpus—in some ways the literary equivalent of an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging)—anticipate, and perhaps even complicate, contemporary neuroscientific insights? 500-word abstract and c.v. to by December 30, 2011.