Mental imagery from visual description
2012 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
One of the most challenging topics for cognitive literary study is the reader's mental imagery. In this talk I will focus on the particular kind of mental imagery prompted by the stylistic device of visual description. Although valuable predictive inquiries have been made into readers' mental imagery in general, its relation to visual description is largely undertheorized. In spite of the fact that visual description is unique, compared to other modes of verbal representation, in its potential to control the specific contents of one's mental image. Referring to my own experimental data from an imagery study conducted under the tutorship of Professors Bortolussi and Dixon of Alberta, I will use the example of visual description to make the following points regarding all predictive inquiry into the cognitive effects of literary style, and into readers' mental imagery in particular: 1) To advance literary study, prediction about the parameters of literary processing (e.g., the occurrence of visual imagery) should be made conjointly with prediction about the specific value of these parameters (e.g., the contents of the visual image). 2) Therefore, cognitive science can be fully helpful to literary study only insofar as it encompasses phenomenology and other methods of informed introspection. 3) That prediction made from within traditional scientific paradigms sometimes runs counter to phenomenological prediction does not necessarily entail mutual exclusivity. Rather, the tension between the two is precisely what is distinctive for literature as an object of scientific knowledge.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-123161OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-123161DiVA: diva2:872014
Science and Literary Criticism, St. John's College, University of Oxford