By Nancy Easterlin
Combining cognitive and evolutionary learn with conventional humanist equipment, Nancy Easterlin demonstrates how a biocultural viewpoint in concept and feedback opens up new percentages for literary interpretation.
Easterlin continues that the perform of literary interpretation remains to be of imperative highbrow and social price. Taking an open but really appropriate procedure, she argues, besides the fact that, that literary interpretation stands to achieve dramatically from a fair-minded and inventive software of cognitive and evolutionary learn. This paintings does simply that, expounding a biocultural process that charts a center direction among overly reductive ways to literature and traditionalists who see the sciences as a hazard to the humanities.
Easterlin develops her biocultural technique by way of evaluating it to 4 significant subfields inside of literary reviews: new historicism, ecocriticism, cognitive methods, and evolutionary ways. After an intensive evaluate of every subfield, she reconsiders them in gentle of proper study 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 may possibly See the Smallest Things."
A Biocultural method of Literary concept and Interpretation deals a clean and reasoned method of literary reports that without delay preserves the critical value that interpretation performs within the humanities and embraces the fascinating advancements of the cognitive sciences.
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Additional resources for A Biocultural Approach to Literary Theory and Interpretation
In What Is Art For? (1988) and Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why (1992) Dissanayake develops her phylogenetic account of art, one that she follows up with an account of the ontogenetic rhythms and modes that she proposes undergird and pattern all art behaviors in Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began (2000). In Dissanayake’s account, all of the activities, adornments, and decorations of preindustrial cultures that we recognize as the ancestral forms of modern art exemplify a predisposition toward elaboration, or in her chosen phrase, making special.
While the young chimp Viki elaborately mimed pulling a string toy and guiding it through a house, Viki could not reengage in the game when her human caretaker tried to reinvent it a few days later (99–100). The inability of a chimpanzee, who, unlike most other animals, has some metarepresentational capabilities, to engage in this level of imaginative interaction indicates that it would be necessarily closed off from any psychological or cognitive rewards that the arts could offer. 37 But the point of disagreement on the matter of art’s religious origin appears to be semantic rather than substantive.
In retrospect, then, it is perhaps less than shameful that literature has been somewhat difficult to grapple with as an object of study. Nevertheless, as departments of English came to focus more fully on literature and interpretive criticism rather than philology through the first half of the twentieth century, they settled on a set of practices that speaks to the complexity of literary phenomena, strives for a degree of analytic distance from the object of study, and acknowledges as well that a relative degree of absorption into the subject is constitutive of the critical process.
A Biocultural Approach to Literary Theory and Interpretation by Nancy Easterlin