This course is an introduction to several complementary notions of the "literary mind" -- how the mind is depicted in literature, the ways that literature exploits and enhances features of everyday cognition, and the fact that literature is the product of human minds. Along the way, we will make a case for why the study of cognition needs the study of literature.
How can words on a page, or spoken on a stage, have any hope of producing reliable and complex effects on the thoughts and emotions in the minds of those who read and hear them? What relationship do the "minds" of literary characters have to the supposedly "real" minds of ourselves and the people we meet in real life? What can the forms of our literature tell us about the kind of the minds that produce and consume that literature?
During this course, we will look at representations of cognition and interiority in British and American literature, including Renaissance drama, the 19th century sensation novel, and contemporary science fiction. We'll examine how these texts reflect particular, historically specific, and varied models of how minds work, as well as the arsenal of experimental techniques they deploy for representing the internal experience of those minds. We'll also read contemporary work in cognitive science about the features of language and cognition that make literature possible.