University of Texas Press

Cognitive Approaches to Literature and Culture Series

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Cognitive Approaches to Literature and Culture Series

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Analyzing World Fiction

New Horizons in Narrative Theory

Edited by Frederick Luis Aldama

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Cinema, Slavery, and Brazilian Nationalism

By Richard A. Gordon

Using Brazilian films about slavery as case studies, Cinema, Slavery, and Brazilian Nationalism offers new insight into the deployment of cinematic narrative strategies to influence viewers and their conceptions of Brazilian national identity.

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Cosmopolitan Minds

Literature, Emotion, and the Transnational Imagination

By Alexa Weik von Mossner

Reading transnational American literature from a cognitive perspective, this book argues that our emotional engagements with others—real and imagined—are crucially important for the development of cosmopolitan imaginations.

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Literature, Analytically Speaking

Explorations in the Theory of Interpretation, Analytic Aesthetics, and Evolution

By Peter Swirski

In a new approach to interdisciplinary literary theory, Literature, Analytically Speaking integrates literary studies with analytic aesthetics, girded by neo-Darwinian evolution. Scrutinizing narrative fiction through a lens provided by analytic philosophy, revered literary theorist Peter Swirski puts new life into literary theory while fashioning a set of practical guidelines for critics in the interpretive trenches. Dismissing critical inquirers who deny intention its key role in the study of literary reception, Swirski extends the defense of intentionality to art and to human behavior in general. In the process, Swirski takes stock of the recent work in evolutionary theory, arguing that the analysis of narrative truth may be grounded in the neo-Darwinian paradigm which forms the empirical backbone behind his analytic approach. Literature, Analytically Speaking provides a series of revolutionary precepts designed to capture the ways in which we do interpret (and ought to interpret) works of literature. Reflecting a resounding shift from the poststructuralist paradigm, Swirski’s lively and colorful presentation, backed up by a dazzling variety of examples and case studies, reconceptualizes the aesthetics of literature and literary studies.

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Multicultural Comics

From Zap to Blue Beetle

Edited by Frederick Luis Aldama

Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle is the first comprehensive look at comic books by and about race and ethnicity. The thirteen essays tease out for the general reader the nuances of how such multicultural comics skillfully combine visual and verbal elements to tell richly compelling stories that gravitate around issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality within and outside the U.S. comic book industry. Among the explorations of mainstream and independent comic books are discussions of the work of Adrian Tomine, Grant Morrison, and Jessica Abel as well as Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s The Tomb of Dracula; Native American Anishinaabe-related comics; mixed-media forms such as Kerry James Marshall’s comic-book/community performance; DJ Spooky’s visual remix of classic film; the role of comics in India; and race in the early Underground Comix movement. The collection includes a “one-stop shop” for multicultural comic book resources, such as archives, websites, and scholarly books. Each of the essays shows in a systematic, clear, and precise way how multicultural comic books work in and of themselves and also how they are interconnected with a worldwide tradition of comic-book storytelling.

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The Neural Imagination

Aesthetic and Neuroscientific Approaches to the Arts

By Irving Massey

Art and technology have been converging rapidly in the past few years; an important example of this convergence is the alliance of neuroscience with aesthetics, which has produced the new field of neuroaesthetics. Irving Massey examines this alliance, in large part to allay the fears of artists and audiences alike that brain science may “explain away” the arts. The first part of the book shows how neuroscience can enhance our understanding of certain features of art. The second part of the book illustrates a humanistic approach to the arts; it is written entirely without recourse to neuroscience, in order to show the differences in methodology between the two approaches. The humanistic style is marked particularly by immersion in the individual work and by evaluation, rather than by detachment in the search for generalizations. In the final section Massey argues that, despite these differences, once the reality of imagination is accepted neuroscience can be seen as the collaborator, not the inquisitor, of the arts.

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Of Space and Mind

Cognitive Mappings of Contemporary Chicano/a Fiction

By Patrick L. Hamilton

Chicano/a fiction is often understood as a literature of resistance to the dominant U.S. Anglo culture and society. But reducing this rich literary production to a single, binary opposition distorts it in fundamental ways. It conflates literature with life, potentially substituting a literature of protest for social activism that could provoke real changes in society. And it overlooks the complex range of responses to Anglo society that actually animates Chicano/a fiction. In this paradigm-shifting book, Patrick L. Hamilton analyzes works by Rudolfo Anaya, Ana Castillo, Denise Chávez, Rolando Hinojosa, Arturo Islas, John Rechy, Alfredo Véa, and Helena María Viramontes to expand our understandings of the cultural interactions within the United States that are communicated by Chicano/a fiction. He argues that the narrative ethics of “resistance” within the Chicano/a canon is actually complemented by ethics of “persistence” and “transformation” that imagine cultural differences within the United States as participatory and irreducible to simple oppositions. To demonstrate these alternative ethics, Hamilton adapts the methodology of cognitive mapping; that is, he treats the chosen fictional texts as mental maps that are constructed around and communicative of the narrative’s ethics. As he reads these cognitive maps, which envision Chicano/a culture as being part of U.S. society rather than as “resistant” and separate, Hamilton asserts that the authors’ conception of cultural difference speaks more usefully to current sociopolitical debates, such as those about gay marriage and immigration reform, than does the traditional “resistant” paradigm.

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On Anger

Race, Cognition, Narrative

By Sue Kim

Opening a stimulating dialogue between cognitive studies and cultural studies, On Anger uses narratives such as the film Crash, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, and the HBO series The Wire to argue that race is central to our conceptions and experiences of anger.

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Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts

Edited by Frederick Luis Aldama

Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts brings together in one volume cutting-edge research that turns to recent findings in cognitive and neurobiological sciences, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and evolutionary biology, among other disciplines, to explore and understand more deeply various cultural phenomena, including art, music, literature, and film. The essays fulfilling this task for the general reader as well as the specialist are written by renowned authors H. Porter Abbott, Patrick Colm Hogan, Suzanne Keen, Herbert Lindenberger, Lisa Zunshine, Katja Mellman, Lalita Pandit Hogan, Klarina Priborkin, Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach, Ellen Spolsky, and Richard Walsh. Among the works analyzed are plays by Samuel Beckett, novels by Maxine Hong Kingston, music compositions by Igor Stravinsky, art by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, and films by Michael Haneke. Each of the essays shows in a systematic, clear, and precise way how music, art, literature, and film work in and of themselves and also how they are interconnected. Finally, while each of the essays is unique in style and methodological approach, together they show the way toward a unified knowledge of artistic creativity.

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Understanding Indian Movies

Culture, Cognition, and Cinematic Imagination

By Patrick Colm Hogan

Indian movies are among the most popular in the world. However, despite increased availability and study, these films remain misunderstood and underappreciated in much of the English-speaking world, in part for cultural reasons. In this book, Patrick Colm Hogan sets out through close analysis and explication of culturally particular information about Indian history, Hindu metaphysics, Islamic spirituality, Sanskrit aesthetics, and other Indian traditions to provide necessary cultural contexts for understanding Indian films. Hogan analyzes eleven important films, using them as the focus to explore the topics of plot, theme, emotion, sound, and visual style in Indian cinema. These films draw on a wide range of South Asian cultural traditions and are representative of the greater whole of Indian cinema. By learning to interpret these examples with the tools Hogan provides, the reader will be able to take these skills and apply them to other Indian films. But this study is not simply culturalist. Hogan also takes up key principles from cognitive neuroscience to illustrate that all cultures share perceptual, cognitive, and emotional elements that, when properly interpreted, can help to bridge gaps between seemingly disparate societies. Hogan locates the specificity of Indian culture in relation to human universals, and illustrates this cultural-cognitive synthesis through his detailed interpretations of these films. This book will help both scholars and general readers to better understand and appreciate Indian cinema.

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