SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

The “neurohumanities” are largely traditional fields of humanistic study – prominently including literature and related arts, such as film – that have taken up findings or methods of neuroscience to advance their research. Despite some (perhaps premature) media attention (see, for example, Quart), the body of work in neurohumanities is limited. It is therefore probably too early to undertake a survey of research in neuroscientific literary criticism and theory. However, there is considerable interest among literary scholars in the possibilities for such criticism and theory, and there are many areas of neuroscientific research that have begun to be incorporated into literary study or are likely to do so in the near future. The following essay first overviews some basic principles of neuroscience, selecting aspects of neuroscientific research that are particularly germane to literary study. It then considers the main tasks of literary criticism and theory and some of the ways in which neuroscience bears on those tasks. The essay ends with a brief comment on the relation between literary study that draws on neuroscience and neuroscience that takes literature as its object.