Embodied Spaces, Embodied Minds

embodied minds

The Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation programme are hosting a seminar on Embodied Spaces, Embodied Minds with Richard Walsh (University of York) and Tim Chesters (University of Cambridge). The seminar will be chaired by Ben Morgan(University of Oxford).

* Please note the change of time from 4.30pm start to 5.00pm *

The seminar will explore the rich interplay between the rhetorical details of literary texts and the way they draw on and appeal to our embodied experience beyond literature. Texts discussed range from Rabelais and Robbe-Grillet to Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows.

Richard Walsh (York): “Beyond Fictional Worlds: Narrative and Spatial Cognition in Robbe-Grillet's Jealousy"

This paper argues that the reading of fiction does not involve the inference of a fictional world. The fictive text primarily cues our narrative sense-making, which functions interdependently with other modes of cognition, including spatial modelling, within the bounds of interpretative criteria of relevance. The argument is pursued in relation to Alain Robbe-Grillet’s La Jalousie (1957), which invites spatial interpretation in great detail, but also shows that accepting the invitation, far from supplying a basis for imaginative engagement with the novel, obscures its fictive rhetoric.

Tim Chesters (Cambridge):“Skittling and Scrooging: Perspectives on Embodied Cognition"

This paper will discuss mindreading and embodiment in two literary episodes: the celebrated storm scene in Rabelais’s Fourth Book (1552), and the opening chapter of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows (1908). Both appear initially to stage mindreading as a phenomenologically immediate experience: I grasp the intentionality of others as a prey animal might a predator’s next move - instantaneously, unreflectively, embodiedly, as an immanent feature of my ecology. Examined most closely, however, this picture becomes more complex: linguistic features such as tense, mood, phonetic patterning, and neologism serve to remind us that the minds of others are often far from self-evident.

See more at the OCCT website.


OCCT is a Divisional research programme supported by TORCH and St Anne's College. Convenors Prof. Matthew Reynolds, Prof. Mohamed-Salah Omri, Prof. Ben Morgan, Dr Sowon Park, Prof. Adriana X. Jacobs, Prof. Patrick McGuinness, Prof. Jane Hiddleston, Dr Xiaofan Amy Li, Dr Valentina Gosetti. Co-ordinator: Dr Eleni Philippou.

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Comparative Criticism and Translation

Contact name: Dr Eleni Philippou
Contact email: comparative.criticism@st-annes.ox.ac.uk
Audience: Open to all