A Biocultural Approach to Literary Theory and Interpretation by Nancy Easterlin

By Nancy Easterlin

Combining cognitive and evolutionary learn with conventional humanist equipment, Nancy Easterlin demonstrates how a biocultural viewpoint in concept and feedback opens up new percentages for literary interpretation.

Easterlin continues that the perform of literary interpretation remains to be of imperative highbrow and social price. Taking an open but sensible strategy, she argues, notwithstanding, that literary interpretation stands to achieve dramatically from a fair-minded and artistic software of cognitive and evolutionary study. This paintings does simply that, expounding a biocultural strategy that charts a center direction among overly reductive methods to literature and traditionalists who see the sciences as a chance to the humanities.

Easterlin develops her biocultural procedure via evaluating it to 4 significant subfields inside literary reviews: new historicism, ecocriticism, cognitive techniques, and evolutionary techniques. After a radical evaluate of every subfield, she reconsiders them in gentle of appropriate learn in cognitive and evolutionary psychology and offers a textual research of literary works from the romantic period to the current, together with William Wordsworth’s "Simon Lee" and the Lucy poems, Mary Robinson’s "Old Barnard," Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s "Dejection: An Ode," D. H. Lawrence’s The Fox, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, and Raymond Carver’s "I might See the Smallest Things."

A Biocultural method of Literary thought and Interpretation bargains a clean and reasoned method of literary reviews that right now preserves the imperative significance that interpretation performs within the humanities and embraces the fascinating advancements of the cognitive sciences.

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Extra resources for A Biocultural Approach to Literary Theory and Interpretation

Example text

These works illustrate how human loss and disordered social relations deform our sense of the nonhuman natural world, coloring it with ambivalence and antipathy. In chapter 4, “Remembering the Body: Feelings, Concepts, Process,” I survey some of the many different practices that now fall under the rubric of cognitive approaches to literature and discern, in spite of the demise of cognitivism (computer-modeled, first-generation cognitive science), a tendency to reconstruct machinelike models of the mind in literary studies.

To the extent that interpretation continues to form a core activity of the discipline, any strong call for the negative test is apt to be problematic. Although the model of interpretation that Carroll himself has been developing in his interpretive essays suggests that critics should begin the interpretive process from a set of common assumptions about human motivational systems (about which I will say more in the next section), these readings are not empirically verifiable, as Carroll would be the first to acknowledge.

The reader will be all the better for her choice of reduction if she does not utterly neglect other dimensions of the process and if she acknowledges that the text under consideration should have a substantial say, so to speak, in the methodological choice. “Hudibras” and “Easter, 1916” cry out for text-world orientations; realistic novels from Lazarillo de Tormes to The Heather Blazing, for reader-world orientations; and lyric poetry, Finnegan’s Wake, and other works of surface density for reader-text orientations, but all readings will fall flat if they focus on one dimension to the exclusion of others.

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