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Criticism and the Blending Mind

  • Michael Booth
Chapter
Part of the Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance book series (CSLP)

Abstract

While the field of literary studies has long adopted a posture of agnosticism about the mind, other fields have been accumulating insights into human cognition and support for them. Shakespeare is interesting to me not as a figure to be aggrandized in the old tradition, nor reduced to a product of his culture, as in the newer tradition, but as a writer manifesting capacities that animate us all. To understand what is intellectually rewarding in his works is to better understand the workings of thought in general, and vice versa. With its interest in scalar relationships as much as in binarisms, and its attention to conceptual relations besides undifferentiated “difference,” blending theory enlarges Theory. If historicism and poststructuralism are two idioms for constructing and unpacking meaning, cognitive theory differs only in focusing our attention on these mental acts themselves. Two key instances of the “cognitive turn” in literary studies are Mark Turner’s 1991 Reading Minds and Mary Thomas Crane’s 2001 Shakespeare’s Brain. Nicholas Moschovakis and Eve Sweetser were early explorers of blend-related literary criticism. Now that cognition is officially one of the “primary scholarly and professional concerns” of the MLA, I hope that the time is right for the present wide-ranging analysis of Shakespeare’s art.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Booth
    • 1
  1. 1.CambridgeUSA

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