Literature and art as a cognitive object: towards a novel mentalistic theory of literature and art
In this Whitehead Lecture Dr Patricia Kolaiti will outline the key theoretical hypothesis of ‘Literature and Art as a Cognitive Object’ (CogLit), a two-year research project based in the School of Humanities, University of Brighton and funded by a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, European Commission. Shifting the focus from the properties of the artwork/ literary text itself to literature/ art as a case of human agency, ‘CogLit’ will set out a radically new view of the interplay between literature, art and mind and make one of the first systematic and empirically tractable proposals in the 21st century on the essence of literature and art.
Dr Patricia Kolaiti will try to give the audience a taste of some of the fascinating questions about the nature of literature and art that ‘CogLit’ will be focusing on and hint on the challenges raised for traditional perceptions of literature and art by adopting a novel cognitive perspective. This talk will move beyond the existing binary oppositions of artifact-oriented and receiver-oriented approaches to literature and art, put the artist/producer at the centre of attention and gesture towards a new producer-oriented theoretical model of literature and art as a cognitive concept standing in a causal relation to a specialized type of creative mental states and processes. These specialized mental states and processes are metaphysically- and psychologically-real entities. Investigating them may help provide answers to persistent ontological questions in literary and art theory and delineate new and exciting potential for research in the linguistic and cognitive study of literature and art by enabling us shift the focus from the artifactual properties of artworks as objects out there in the world to their complex retroactive relationship with the micro-mechanisms of the mind that creates them.
Dr Patricia Kolaiti is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow in the School of Humanities, University of Brighton, working on the 2-year interdisciplinary project ‘Literature and Art as a Cognitive Object’ (‘CogLit’) funded by the European Commission. ‘CogLit’ aims to develop a novel theoretical account of literature and art as a cognitive object and build two-way interactions between literary and art study, linguistics and the cognitive sciences. Patricia holds a PhD from UCL and was Associate Researcher with the Balzan project on ‘Literature as an Object of Knowledge’ (based at St John’s College Research Centre, Oxford and led by Prof. Terence Cave). Her first monograph The Limits of Expression: Language, Literature, Mind has recently been published by Cambridge University Press. She is a member of the Cognitive Futures in the Humanities Network, and a co-founder of the Beyond Meaning Network and the Poetry as an Action Research Group. Patricia is also a published poet and performer: her collection Celesteia was nominated for the 2008 First Book Diavazo Award in Greece.
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