The mind and the text / the mind in the text

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Reading is famously an exercise in gap filling, and from select and occasionally contradictory information the reader creates coherent characters and believable stories. Our mental faculties are obviously geared to produce a smooth experience and to homogenize disjunctive information and conflicting sensorial data. Over the last decade, several novels have dealt with neuroscientific topics. Novels like Richard Powers’s The Echo Maker or Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love, while explaining the relevant concepts and theories, also employ devices that play on the reader’s mind in the process of reading. The “willful suspension of disbelief” is disrupted, and the reader is made aware of the internal processes of construction involved in reading. Such meta-narrative devices may contribute to our understanding of cognition and the mental mapping of the world. Literary studies may thus enter a bi-directional exchange with the cognitive sciences.


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