Program in Comparative Literature

Cory A Reed

Associate ProfessorPh.D., Princeton University

Associate Professor of Spanish
Cory A Reed



Cervantes, Spanish Drama, Early Modern Mediterranean World, Transatlantic Studies, Cognitive Studies, and Comparative Literature


Cory Reed is Associate Professor of Spanish. His research focuses on the study of genre and performance in early modern drama; the representation of identity in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature; literary and cultural responses to the emergence of scientific discourse in early modern Spain; and cognitive cultural studies. He is the author of The Novelist as Playwright: Cervantes and the Entremés nuevo and journal articles on Don Quijote, Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares, early modern drama, film, and opera as a literary/dramatic form. He is finishing a second book, Cervantes and the Aesthetic of Instrumentality: Science, Technology, and Agency in Don Quijote, and beginning new research projects on utopia and performance in early modern Spanish drama, and on cognitive approaches to early modern literature and culture. Dr. Reed serves on the executive council of the Cervantes Society of America as Communications Director and represents the University of Texas on the Representative Council of the Newberry Renaissance Consortium. He also directed the interdisciplinary Tracking Cultures Program, which analyzes the historical roots of Southwestern in colonial Mexico and early modern Spain.


C L 382 • Cognitive Cultural Studies

33975 • Fall 2014
Meets T 900am-1200pm BEN 2.104
(also listed as ILA 387)


The growing field of cognitive cultural studies operates at the disciplinary intersection of evolutionary psychology, phenomenology, neuroscience, and the humanistic study of literature and culture. Cognitive approaches to literature and culture view all knowledge as embodied, deriving not only from discourse but also from emotional and biological processes of adaptation to the natural environment. This emerging interdisciplinary approach seeks to identify the cognitive bases of literary/cultural discourse, to study the affective aspects of readers’ responses to literature, and to develop a socio-psychological orientation that addresses the effects of literary readings on self and society, thereby building on the important contributions of discursive cultural studies by reintroducing the “evolved human mind” first identified by Raymond Williams.

Literature in the early modern period frequently depicts mind-reading characters who attempt to negotiate an increasingly complex social world during the time in which the modern subject emerges and conceptions of identity and society are first being formed. Focusing on how people think, persuade, and infer the thoughts of others in order to gain social or political advantage, cognitive cultural studies is a particularly appropriate methodology for the study of these dynamics in the early modern world. In this course we will take a cognitive approach to study the formation of social identity, the performance of ethnicity and religion in public theatres, and how critical and/or subversive messages are conveyed in the public arena despite political attempts to silence them, analyzing texts that reflect Spain’s participation in the broader Mediterranean and Transatlantic worlds. In the process, we will consider such theoretical concepts as Theory of Mind, Social and Machiavellian Intelligence, Representational Hunger, and Cognitive Embodiment as ways of understanding how human beings think, feel, and act during a period of controlled mass culture and political hegemony.


Class meetings will be organized around active discussion and student participation.  The first part of each meeting will concentrate on the dissemination of theory and background information through a brief lecture, leaving the remaining time for textual analysis and discussion.  Every week, students will be responsible for literary/cultural readings as well as theoretical and critical works.  Students will prepare one oral report on a critical work during the semester. A second brief oral presentation and written abstract on the topic of the final paper is due for the last class meeting. Students will write a term paper of between 15 and 20 pages that analyzes one or more of the works studied during the course.


Theoretical Texts

Aldama, Frederick Luis, ed. Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts (2010)

Jaén, Isabel and Julien Simon, eds. Cognitive Literary Studies: Current Themes and New Directions (2012)

Leverage, Paula, and Howard Mancing, Richard Schweickert, and Jennifer Marston William, eds. A Theory of Mind and Literature (2011)

McConachie, Bruce and F.Elizabeth Hart, eds. Performance and Cognition: Theatre studies and the cognitive turn (2006)

Simerka, Barbara. Knowing Subjects: Cognitive Cultural Studies and Early Modern Spanish Literature (2013)

Zunshine, Lisa, ed. Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies (2010)

Literary Texts

Calderón, El médico de su honra

Ana Caro, Valor, agravio y mujer

Cervantes, Don Quijote (selections)

Cervantes, El trato de Argel, El retablo de las maravillas

Claramonte, El negro valiente en Flandes

Bartolomé de las Casas, Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias

Lazarillo de Tormes

Ruiz de Alarcon, La verdad sospechosa

Curriculum Vitae

Profile Pages

External Links