Literature and the Extended Mind: A Reassessment of Modernism

The TOP BOF project 'Literature and the Extended Mind: A Reassessment of Modernism' led by Dirk Van Hulle at the University of Antwerp proposes a re-evaluation of the so-called 'inward turn', as applied in the field of literary criticism, by exploring the works of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Samuel Beckett. Spanning the fields of philosophy of mind, genetic criticism and cognitive narratology, the three dissertations (by respectively Emma-Louise Silva, Alison Luyten and Olga Beloborodova) that resulted from this research combined the following components: 1) the invention and production of the storyworld which can be traced through the authors' archives of notes, manuscripts, typescripts, proofs, letters and their libraries, as proffered by genetic criticism; 2) the depiction of the characters' minds in the storyworld, based on cognitive narratology; and 3) the reception and interpretation of the texts, as formed in literary criticism. The overarching philosophical framework of '4E cognition' - or the embedded, embodied, extended and enactive approaches to the mind - renders the 'inward turn' unfeasible, due to insights garnered in contemporary philosophy of mind that understand the mind as inextricably fused with body and world and thus questions the entrenched Cartesian skull-bound model of the mind.  

Major Events

  • April 2016: Beckett and Modernism International Conference (27-30 April, University of Antwerp)
  • June 2018: The Art of James Joyce International Conference (the XXVI International Joyce Symposium, 11-16 June 2018, University of Antwerp)