Fiction and Other Minds: I and We: Literary Texts and the Constitution of Shared Identities

TORCH/Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation Programme in conjunction with the John Fell Fund project “I & We: Literary Texts and the Constitution of Shared Identities at Four Moments of Historical Transition,” and The Centre for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen present I and We: Literary Texts and the Constitution of Shared Identities.

This conference drew together scholars from philosophy, phenomenology, literature, classics, cognitive and neuroscience to debate forms of individual and shared identity, private and collective self-understanding and group affiliation. Contributors asked how, in what ways, and to what effect may an 'I' become a 'we', or a ‘we’ conceive of its various ‘Is’. The hope was to create productive interchange among disciplines that often overlap and yet are also often at cross purposes.

The event was supported by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, the John Fell Fund, and the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation Programme (OCCT), University of Oxford. 

The conference took place online. All talks are open to the public.

About the Seminar Series: The Fiction and Other Minds seminar series showcases current research in the Cognitive Humanities by hosting scholars working at the interface between literary studies, visual and performance art, phenomenology, philosophy, and the cognitive sciences. The seminars explore how features investigated by the cognitive sciences can be tested and expanded across different cultural contexts, media, and artistic genres. In particular, we explore how literary texts often challenge and differentiate theoretical insights—especially through their attention to the culturally situated aspects of cognition—and how cognitively informed approaches to literature can deepen our understanding of the embodied and affective processes that underpin meaning-making, including literary reading. For more information, please see the Fiction and Other Minds research strand page.

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Thursday, 10 June 2021

10:00–10:15 | Welcome by Felix Budelmann (Oxford) and Dan Zahavi (Copenhagen/Oxford)

10:15–11:00 | ‘Beginnings of Morality; exploring the unimaginable in neurology and beyond’, Jonathan Cole (Bournemouth)

11:00–11:15 | Coffee Break

11:15–12:00 | ‘Literature and Plurality in Hannah Arendt’, Ben Morgan (Oxford)

12:00–12:15 | Coffee Break

12:15–13:00 | ‘One Must Know How to Dance’: Someplace Between Me and Us in Vicki Baum’s Menschen im Hotel (1929)’, Meindert Peters (Oxford)

13:00–14:00 | Lunch Break

14:00–14:45 | ‘ “Everyman’s an Angel”: Literature, Authenticity and Social Cognition’, Mike Wheeler (Stirling)

14:45–15:00 | Coffee Break

15:00–16:15 | Roundtable (for Speakers Only)


Friday, 11 June 2021

10:00–10:45 | ‘The fifth wall. The philosophical problem of I and We in Beckett’s Fin de Parti/Endgame’, Christian Benne (Copenhagen)

10:45–11:00 | Coffee Break

11.00–11:45 | ‘The text as a body. Embodied simulation and the relation with fiction’, Vittorio Gallese (Parma)

11:45–12:00 | Coffee Break

12:00–12:45 | ‘Memory, Testimony, Fiction and Bodily Experience: I & We in Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace’, Naomi Rokotnitz (Oxford)

12:45–13:45 | Lunch Break

13:45–14:30 | ‘Solipsism and Solidarity in Beauvoir’s World War II Fiction: From Invitation to Encroachment’, Jennifer McWeeny (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

14:30–14:45 | Coffee Break

14:45–16:00 | Roundtable (for Speakers Only)