Enacting the Artifice: A Cognitive Approach to Literary Self-Reflection

  • Date: –16:00
  • Location: SCAS, Thunbergssalen Linneanum, Thunbergsvägen 2, Uppsala
  • Lecturer: Merja Polvinen, Erik Allardt Fellow, SCAS. Senior Lecturer in English Philology, University of Helsinki
  • Website
  • Organiser: Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
  • Contact person: Stina Grånäs
  • Seminarium

This talk will present an outline of my work on self-reflective narratives as cognitive artefacts. I combine literary theory with the cognitive sciences in order to study the role of fictional narratives in human lives, and I argue that such an interdisciplinary dialogue about literature – ongoing now for two decades – needs a sharper discussion about the role of artifice and self-reflection. I discuss literary experience using a combination of narratology and second-generation cognitive science (4E approaches), and suggest that artifice is a central quality in the experience of fiction, and one that makes the cognitive environment of fictional narratives fundamentally different from our everyday sensory reality. More specifically, I will present this argument in relation to the experience of time in narrative, and discuss the case of John Barth’s short story “On With the Story” (1995).

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