The Empirical Turn of Literary Studies

  • Alexandre Gefen


In contemporary literary criticism, case studies have become more important than analysis of models, and the reflection on narratives more important than that of structures. This movement has been reinforced by a new scientism mainly represented by cognitive sciences that reintegrate literature into the order of ordinary mental facts dependent on brain function and justifying explanations. At the same time, the approaches founded upon data produced by digital humanities have also purported to render literary studies scientific, that is, falsifiable. This paper shows how the decline of linguistic theory has led to pragmatic and empirical field approaches to literary studies, and highlights how, just as post-structuralist hypertextualism dissolved the specificity of literariness, the normalization of literary knowledge in scientifically informed new approaches undermines the specificity of literature.


Cognitive poetic Digital humanities Literary theory Epistemology 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandre Gefen
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre National de la Recherche ScientifiqueUniversité Paris 3—Sorbonne NouvelleParisFrance

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