Fiction and Other Minds

The Fiction and Other Minds research strand developed out of the Cultures of Mindreading: The Novel and Other Minds research strand, and has two main points of focus:

The Fiction and Other Minds Seminar Series. Running since 2013, and co-convened by Ben Morgan and Naomi Rokotnitz, this 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.

I & We: Literary Texts and the Constitution of Shared Identities. This seminar series led up to the international conference, ‘I & We: Literary Texts and the Constitution of Shared Identities’. The conference, held online during the pandemic in June 2021, 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 conference created productive interchange among disciplines that often overlap and yet are also often at cross purposes

This venture was supported by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, the John Fell Fund, and the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT) Research Centre, University of Oxford.

In addition to the co-authored article “I and We: Hannah Arendt, Participatory Plurality, and the Literary Scaffolding of Collective Intentionality,” forthcoming in Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory (June 2023), the convenors hope to regroup and continue this research in 2024.