A Biocultural Approach to Literary Theory and Interpretation by Nancy Easterlin

By Nancy Easterlin

Combining cognitive and evolutionary examine with conventional humanist tools, Nancy Easterlin demonstrates how a biocultural viewpoint in concept and feedback opens up new percentages for literary interpretation.

Easterlin keeps that the perform of literary interpretation remains to be of principal highbrow and social price. Taking an open but sensible method, she argues, even if, that literary interpretation stands to realize dramatically from a fair-minded and artistic software of cognitive and evolutionary examine. This paintings does simply that, expounding a biocultural technique that charts a center path among overly reductive methods to literature and traditionalists who see the sciences as a danger to the humanities.

Easterlin develops her biocultural strategy through evaluating it to 4 significant subfields inside literary experiences: new historicism, ecocriticism, cognitive techniques, and evolutionary methods. After an intensive overview of every subfield, she reconsiders them in gentle of correct examine in cognitive and evolutionary psychology and offers a textual research of literary works from the romantic period to the current, together with William Wordsworth’s "Simon Lee" and the Lucy poems, Mary Robinson’s "Old Barnard," Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s "Dejection: An Ode," D. H. Lawrence’s The Fox, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, and Raymond Carver’s "I might See the Smallest Things."

A Biocultural method of Literary thought and Interpretation bargains a clean and reasoned method of literary experiences that right away preserves the imperative value that interpretation performs within the humanities and embraces the interesting advancements of the cognitive sciences.

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30 As the products of individual consciousnesses that reach fruition when their material instantiations are apprehended by other consciousnesses, they are rather unlike cells produced by the blind process of natural selection or complex organisms with an intentionality of their own.  . . They have no Archimedean point of critical leverage” (“ ‘Theory,’ Anti-Theory,” 34). As Nordlund’s model implies, however, the nature of the object is so fundamentally defined by different consciousnesses with varied relations to the world and by aspects of the reading process that absorption into the subject seems, to a significant degree, a fundamental aspect of reading and interpretation.

Inured to the brutalizing labor of farm work, he has never thought about his body at all. But perhaps the poem has made him aware of his body as a living thing that will age and die as other living things will. Whatever else William Stoner has understood about the sonnet in his informal interpretive process, the passage suggests at least that he 26 A Biocultural Approach to Literary Theory and Interpretation has connected it to his physical body. Entirely incapable of reformulating a linguistic paraphrase of the sonnet, Stoner has nonetheless experienced something physiologically meaningful through the abstract medium of language.

In cranial deformation, ablation and filing of the teeth, chant, rhythmic dance, and narrative thought, which would propel humans toward myth construction and, thus, the evolution of language, the arts emerged as a central component of the entwined evolution of human consciousness, sociality, and language. Dissanayake’s first two books were published in 1988 and 1992, and her theory of art is given support by contemporaneous developments in cognitive psychology and cognitive archaeology. The cognitive psychologist Merlin Donald, for instance, surmises that the drive toward myth construction drove the evolution of language, not vice versa.

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