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Confluence of Minds: Cognitive Modernisms (MSA 16)

In the last 35 years Theory of Mind (ToM) has been the object of intense investigation in developmental psychology, anthropogeny and cognitive neuroscience, producing a number of related concepts to develop our understanding of how we impute mental states to ourselves and others. Examples of such concepts are mentalizing, mindreading, mirroring, we-mode and metacognition. Many of the findings in the cognitive study of ToM converge with literary knowledge on the epistemology of mind. For an author'€™s imaginative capacity to impute mental states to others is, of course, foundational to creating character. 'My name is Brown. Catch me if you can', so Woolf wrote of the elusive consciousness the novelist tries to capture when attempting to create a character that comes alive on the page. ToM is also central to plot for each character'€™s ability (or inability) to predict and understand their own and others'€™ behavior creates much of the story upon which a large part of fiction is based. While such issues of intersubjectivity have been central to literature in general, it became a central modernist preoccupation. Extremely complex and variable levels of implicit mindreading are found in, for example, the mutual silent understanding between Adam and Maggie Verver in Henry James'€™s The Golden Bowl; the intersubjectivity of Bernard, Susan, Neville, Jinny, Rhoda and Louis in Virginia Woolf'€™s The Waves; and Marlow'€™s ability to take the perspective of Kurtz, Jim and Flora in the works of Conrad. This panel on '€˜Confluence of Minds'™ proposes to examine representations and exemplifications of cognitive confluence in modernist fiction.

Potential paper topics include but are not limited to:

Modernist representations of cognitive confluence
Cognitive confluence between reader and character
Linguistic confluence in modernist fiction
Cognitive dissonance
The cognitive model of modernism
Cognitive sympathy
Confluence of minds

Conference Location: Pittsburgh, USA
Conference Starts: November 06, 2014
Conference Ends: November 09, 2014

CFP Submission Deadline: April 28, 2014

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