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Cognitive Sciences and Medieval Studies

An Introduction

What is the value of mapping how neurons fire when engaging with literature and art? How can we understand psychological stress as a historically specific phenomenon? What can medieval mystics teach us about contemplation and cognition? With the rapid development of the cognitive sciences and their importance to how we contemplate questions about the mind and society, recent research in the humanities has been characterized by a ‘cognitive turn’. For their part, the humanities play an important role in forming popular ideas of the human mind and in analyzing the way cognitive, psychological, and emotional phenomena are experienced in time and space. Cognitive Sciences and Medieval Studies aims to inspire medievalists and other scholars within the humanities to engage with the tools and investigative methodologies deriving from cognitive sciences. Contributors explore topics including medieval and modern philosophy of mind, the psychology of religion, the history of psychological medicine, and the re-emergence of the body in cognition.

336 pages | 13 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages

Medieval Studies

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“This collection strikes out boldly: refusing to prioritise the sciences as automatically primary in epistemological or methodological terms; exposing the central concept of neuromedievalism to critique; and inviting contributors and readers alike to consider the bases, possibilities, and limits of its capacity to enlighten. The result is enlivening. This fascinating collection offers no simple blueprint for applying cognitive sciences to medieval questions (or vice versa) but rather encourages us to consider what value might be added to each by bringing the two together. There will be some dead ends, it acknowledges, but the potential for mutual enrichment is real and exciting.”

Kathleen Neal, Monash University

Table of Contents

Introduction: Cognitive Science and Medieval Studies
Juliana Dresvina and Victoria Blud
I Questions of method
1. How Modular Are Medieval Cognitive Theories? - José Filipe Silva
2. An Unrealized Conversation: Medieval Mysticism and the Common Core Thesis - Ralph Hood Jr
3. Questions of Value: Brain Science, Aesthetics, and Art in the Neurohumanities - Matthew Rampley
II Case studies: histories of neuroscience, psychology and mental illness
4. Neuroscience and the Dialectics of History - Daniel Lord Smail
5. Medieval English Understanding of Mental Illness: Terminology and Symptoms In Comparison to Modern Mental Health Conditions - Wendy Turner
6. Attachment Theory for Historians of Medieval Religion - Julie Dresvina
III Case studies: reading texts and minds
7. ‘A Knot So Subtle and So Mighty’: On Knitting, Academic Writing and Julian of Norwich - Godelinde Perk
8. Making Up a Mind: ‘4E’ Cognition and the Medieval Subject - Victoria Blud
9. Cognitive Approaches to Affective Poetics in Early English Literature - Antonina Harbus
IV Case studies: approaching art and artefacts
10. Medieval Art History and Neuroscience: An Introduction - Nadia Pawelchak
11. Spoons, Whorls, and Caroles: How Medieval Artifacts Can Help Keep Your Brain on its Toes - Jeff Rider
Afterword: The Medieval Brain and Modern Neuroscience - John Onians

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