Second-generation cognitive science—which includes the now-familiar set of assumptions about the mind as embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended—provides a unique interstice for the humanities and sciences to explore, together. Writers, visual artists, and performers have variously presented and represented minds and bodies throughout history, and so have developed rich, idiosyncratic ways of formulating the interaction between the limits of specific media with the texture of lived, bodily experience. Similarly, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and artificial intelligence deal with their own sets of methodological limitations that challenge how we think about the mind. Humanists, and particularly literary specialists, have much to learn from contemporary research in cognitive science, considering the primacy of reception in all forms of critical methodology, no matter how theoretical. What is the role of the reader's body during the act of reading, or even interpretation? How does the viewer of an artwork engage dynamically with perceptual phenomena? Do we need to 'refresh' our assumptions about the brain, mind, and body in order to create relatable and accessible criticism? At the same time, humanists can contribute in innovative ways to scientific models of cognition: with detailed armatures accounting for the complexities of narrative, figuration, and conceptualization in art, in what ways can the 'loop' between the arts and sciences be tied in order to generate productively interdisciplinary exchange?
The Cognitive Science in the Arts and Humanities Speaker Series attempts to bring established as well as early-career academics from this growing interdisciplinary field to the diverse intellectual community of Stony Brook University and the surrounding area. In addition, the speakers will host practical workshops on communicating research within and without our disciplines. These events will be geared toward graduate students, in order to generate fluency in other disciplines as well as the translation of concepts from one disciplinary language to the other.
Look to the future events listing for information about these workshops. Also, visit the links page for a bibliography of reading for cognitive studies in the humanities, in addition to other organizations and groups we find interesting.