The Cognitive Turn in Contemporary American Literature

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Northeast Modern Language Association
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A growing number of sub-disciplines in literary studies engage cognitive studies and neuroscience. Affect studies, trauma studies, and memory studies are only some of the theoretical products of literary scholars' engagement with brain studies. This panel welcomes papers that explore cognitive and neuroscientific precepts as they emerge in contemporary American fiction and non-fiction.

This panel will explore the 'cognitive turn' in literary studies as it emerges in contemporary American fiction and non-fiction. Since George H. W. Bush declared the 1990's the 'decade of the brain,' there has been a surge of cross-disciplinary work done at the site of cognitive studies, neuroscience and the humanities. For example, scholars such as Lisa Zunshine and Paul John Eakin have called for literary methodologies that account for cognition and perception in their analyses. Additionally, a growing number of fiction and non-fiction texts use cognitive studies and neuroscientific research to upend generic constraints, as well as challenge assumptions about how we construct, perceive, and describe the world and ourselves within it. We welcome papers that explore contemporary American literature's engagement with cognitive studies and neuroscience. Papers ought to take as their methodological basis particular cognitive and neuroscientific theories such as theory of mind or extended mind theory, affect theory, perceptual systems theory, or memory formation theory.