FT 08-K Brains and Fictions: Literature and the Human Mind
Isabel Jaén, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Why do we enjoy stories so much? Why is fiction so powerful in human culture? And what happens in our minds when we dive into fictional worlds? This is a course on Cognitive Theory, a fascinating field that looks into neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, and other disciplines, in order to explore the role of fictional literature both in the brain and in the human species. Some of the themes discussed are literariness (What is literature? Is literary language different from everyday discourse? Is our mind literary by nature?), emotion (Why do we empathize with literary characters? Why do we feel with and for them?), intentionality (Is literature a sophisticated form of pretense play?), purpose (Is literature just pleasurable or is it also useful? Does it give our species any advantage?), and means (What are the differences between reading fiction and watching it through a play or a movie?). Case studies include Don Juan Manuel’s Count Lucanor, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Calderón’s Life is a Dream, Stanislaw Lem’s Futurological Congress, Borges’ Fictions, Auster’s New York Trilogy, and other exciting stories.