MFS Special Issue - Neuroscience and Modern Fiction

full name / name of organization: 
Modern Fiction Studies
contact email: 
Stephen.burn@glasgow.ac.uk

Guest Editor: Stephen J. Burn
Deadline for Submissions: 1 February 2014

The Editors of MFS seek essays that consider how modern fiction has evolved in dialogue with the neuroscientific revolution. In the aftermath of the so-called “Decade of the Brain” (the 1990s), a new wave of accessible surveys of brain research propounded a neuro-rhetoric that increasingly presents itself as the authoritative mode for addressing the total constellation of experience that once constituted the novel’s natural territory. But while scholars have drawn on the new sciences of mind to retool narratological studies and to facilitate Cognitive Historicist readings of classic literary texts, literary critics have rarely explored the ways that modern fiction has absorbed or contested the influence of neuroscience thought. What implications does the fertile intersection of neuroscience and narrative carry for fiction’s traditional building blocks (character motivation, plot structures, narrative architecture)? How does the novel’s language evolve in response to neuro-rhetoric? In terms of the broader conceptual issues, how is the neuroscientific conception of the self challenged or explored in fiction? What are the epistemological consequences of neural determinism for the novel’s fascination with contingency? How do our notions of genre evolve in a neurocentric age?

Such examples are indicative not exhaustive, and we invite essays that explore how modern fiction has engaged with the new sciences of mind. Essays on individual writers and works are welcome, as well as essays on broader trends and issues raised by literature’s cross-fertilization with neuroscience.

Essays should be 7,000 - 8,500 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references, and should follow the MLA Style Manual (7th edition) for internal citation and Works Cited. Please submit your essay via the online submission form at the following web address: https://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/mfs/special_issues/

Queries should be directed to Stephen J. Burn (Stephen.burn@glasgow.ac.uk).

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