Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction

Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction

Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction

Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction


Cognitive poetics is a new way of thinking about literature, involving the application of cognitive linguistics and psychology to literary texts. This book is the first introductory text to this growing field.In Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction , the reader is encouraged to re-evaluate the categories used to understand literary reading and analysis. Covering a wide range of literary genres and historical periods, the book encompasses both American and European approaches. Each chapter explores a different cognitive-poetic framework and relates it to a literary text. Including a range of activities, discussion points, suggestions for further reading and a glossarial index, the book is both interactive and highly accessible. Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction is essential reading for students on stylistics and literary-linguistic courses, and will be of interest to all those involved in literary studies, critical theory and linguistics.


One of the most radical areas of thought affected by cognitive science has concerned the fundamental issue of categorisation. the way that we divide the world up and name it to ourselves determines what we think the world is, and, even more importantly, how we think that we think at all. Suggesting a new understanding of categorisation is therefore not a trivial undertaking. What cognitive science proposes is not simply a different pattern for categorising mind, body, language and thought, but a revolutionary re-cognition of the notion of categorisation itself.

The traditional dominant view in western philosophy has regarded reason as a product exclusively of the mind, and the rational mind has been treated as being separate from the material body. Cognitive science calls this distinction into question, arguing, as I have pointed out already, that reason (as well as perception, emotion, belief and intuition) are literally embodied - inextricably founded in our bodily interaction and experience with the world. Our physical orientation as humans and our perception of common material processes were shown in the last chapter to be at the root of concepts such as figure and ground and image schemas.

In this chapter, I introduce the cognitive reconception of categorisation, and show how it has consequences for our perception of certain details of language in literary reading. I also demonstrate how recasting the notion of categories has implications for the ways in which literature itself is categorised, and I include an analysis of some literature in which boundaries and genre are an issue.

Links with literary critical concepts

Action, creativity, genre, influences and sources, intertextuality, literary history, mind-style, modes of writing, movements, open and closed texts, parody, periodisation, point of view, reading, reception

In the previous chapter I mentioned the twentieth-century issue of classifying literature and literary language as opposed to non-literary uses of language. Within literary study, the preoccupation with labelling and classifying

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