Poetry and Cognition

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Princeton University

"Poetry and Cognition" (April 15-16, 2011)

This two-day graduate student conference, to be held at Princeton University, will bring together graduate students and faculty from a range of disciplines to discuss the relationships between theories of mind developed by philosophers, cognitive scientists and linguists, and the poetry of different cultures and eras. The conference will feature a keynote address by Ian Lancashire, Professor of English at The University of Toronto.

Studies of the mind have long helped to illuminate aspects of poetics--and vice versa. From Saint Augustine's phenomenological reflections on verse form in the Confessions and On Music onward, poetic rhythm has interested psychologists. Recent studies, such as those of the neuroscientist Edward Large, who suggests that attention itself is a "dynamic and inherently rhythmic process," have revealed the centrality of rhythm to cognition. Metaphor, too, has been an object of interest for studies of the mind. Working at the intersection of philosophy, cognitive science, and linguistics, Mark Johnson and George Lakoff have proposed that metaphors derived from bodily experience form the structure of human cognition. Though put in new terms, their analysis of a bodily basis for thought resonates with thinkers from Quintilian to Deleuze.

We welcome presentations of twenty minutes in length that explore intersections between recent work in cognitive theory, and poems and literary criticism from the ancient past to the present. Abstracts, of no more than 300 words, should be sent to cognitivepoetics@gmail.com by February 1, 2011.