Work of Fiction

The Work of Fiction:

Cognition, Culuture, and Complexity

Edited by Alan Richardson and Ellen Spolsky

The essays gathered here demonstrate and justify the excitement and promise of cognitive historicism, providing a lively introduction to this new and quickly growing area of literary studies. Written by eight leading critics whose work has done much to establish the new field, they display the significant results of a largely unprecedented combination of cultural and cognitive analysis. The authors explore both narrative and dramatic genres, uncovering the tensions among presumably universal cognitive processes, and the local contexts within which complex literary texts are produced. Following an introductory chapter mapping and evaluating the field of literary and cognitive studies, innovative essays on Shakespeare (Othello, Macbeth, Cymbeline, The Rape of Lucrece), on Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, and on recent works by Ian McEwan and Gilbert Sorrentino suggest the limitations of new historicist and post-structuralist approaches to literary and cultural studies while affirming the value of supplementing rather than supplanting them with insights and methods drawn from cognitive and evolutionary theory.


List of Figures
Preface (by Ellen Spolsky)
List of Contributors

  1. Studies in Literature and Cognition: A Field Map (Inroduction)
    Alan Richardson

  2. Stories and Morals: Emotion, Cognitive Exempla, and the Arabic Aristotelians
    Patrick Colm Hogan

  3. Women's Work is Chastity: Lucretia, Cymbeline, and Cognitive Impenetrability
    Ellen Spolsky

  4. Embodied Literature: A Cognitive-Poststructuralist Approach to Genre
    F. Elizabeth Hart

  5. 'Fair is Foul': Macbeth and Binary Logic
    Mary Thomas Crane

  6. Richardson's Clarissa and a Theory of Mind
    Lisa Zunshine

  7. God Novels
    Blakey Vermeule

  8. Matter into Imagination: The Cognitive Realism of Gilbert Sorrentino's Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things
    Joseph Tabbi