Brains in literature/literature in the brain

Francisco Ortega, Fernando Vidal

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Since the 1990s, several disciplines, from neuroanthropology to neurotheology, have emerged at the interface between neuroscience and the social and human sciences. These "neurodisciplines" share basic assumptions about the brain/mind relationship, a preference for neuroimaging methodology, and the goal of establishing the neurobiological foundations of mind and behavior. A neural turn has also been taken in some quarters within the literary field. The neurosciences have provided writers of literature with resources for depicting characters and psychological processes and states; at the same time, they have inspired new interpretive approaches within literary studies. A twofold motif structures what might be called the neuroliterary field: brains in literature/literature in the brain. There has been a certain convergence between the rise of "neuronovels," on the one hand, and the neurologization of literary analysis, on the other. This article studies that twofold motif. It first sketches how neuronovels fit into the history of neurological fiction and fictional elaborations of brain-related issues. It then examines three aspects of several major neuronovels: narrativity, solipsism and sociality, and memory. The article concludes by underlining the difference between incorporating "brains in literature" and placing "literature in the brain." © 2013 by Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)327-360
    JournalPoetics Today
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013


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