Reverse engineering literary cognition: a view from dyspraxia and learning disorders

Guest lecture by Gunther Martens (Ghent University). Open for all.

About the lecture

There has been an avid uptake of the paradigm of embodiment and distributed cognition in cognitive literary and film studies. However, little attention has been paid to the way in which the mind’s interaction with an increasingly technological and digitized environment invites us to reconsider aspects of automation related to cognition itself. In my talk, I will present an invitation to leave the via regia of felicitous, high-level cognition in order to focus on the sensorimotor basis of cognition and potential problems related to executive functioning and working memory.

While drawing on recent theories of the psychology of learning disorders, I will reflect on the current state of the debate by taking a historical detour, namely through a discussion of Robert Musil’s The Man without Qualities. I will argue that Musil, who trained as an engineer and an experimental psychologist, wrote one of the first literary works conceived from the vantage point of information overload and sensory processing issues. In a second step, I will explore theoretical and imaginative scenarios of distributed cognition and “cognitive assemblages” (Hayles) by means of an overview of both advances in digital humanities and recent works of science fiction (e.g. Dietmar Dath).

Published Apr. 20, 2018 10:56 AM - Last modified Oct. 3, 2019 9:17 AM