Fiction and Other Minds

Fiction and other minds seminar

Strand: Fiction and Other Minds


Peter Garrat (English/Durham):  ‘Mind Bloat and The Lifted Veil’

Helen Small (English/Oxford): ‘On the Verification of Mental Experience’

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 16:30 to 18:30; Seminar Room, Radcliffe Building

The seminar studies the very varied way that fiction from different traditions analyses the visceral levels of human interaction. We also investigate whether the practice of reading or watching different forms of fictions contributes to our social know-how. These questions have been the focus of much debate in recent cognitive literary studies, but we don’t confine ourselves to cognitive methods. The comparative angle helps us think hard about the cultural preconditions of mindreading in different social settings in addition to what cognitive and phenomenological tools can teach us about the neural substrates of empathy and emotional attunement and their mobilisation by literary texts. Papers in each session focus on one work. This term’s text is George Eliot’s short narrative “The Lifted Veil” (1859), which presents  a character for whom the thoughts of others obtrude on his own: a character who knows too much. The two speakers are Peter Garrat, one of the founders of the “Cognitive Futures in the Humanities’ network; and Helen Small, editor of the Oxford World Classics edition of Eliot’s text.