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Dr. Wayne Rebhorn, Director 208 W. 21st St. Stop B5003, Austin, Tx 78712 • 512-471-1925

Hannah C Wojciehowski

Professor Ph.D., 1984, Yale University

Professor of English
Hannah C Wojciehowski

Contact

Biography

I am an early modernist and literary theorist who specializes in the history of subjectivity.  I completed my Ph.D. at Yale University in the interdisciplinary field of Renaissance Studies (1984).  I am currently Professor of English at the University of Texas and an Affiliate of the Program in Comparative Literature.

My research interests are multiple.  My 2011 book Group Identity in the Renaissance World explores the history of what I call ‘group subjectivity.”  Drawing on the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Anzieu, and the social network theory of Georg Simmel, this book analyzes the unconscious dynamics of group identity formation in a global context, offering a new paradigm for the study of pre-modernity.  This study of collective fantasies as the organizing ‘containers’ of groups has applications for other historical periods, as well.

Currently I am working in the emergent field of neurocriticism, studying the phenomena of consciousness, memory, emotion, and cognition as they apply to literature and culture.  This interdisciplinary field holds great promise for advancing our shared understanding of the human mind and our social world, and the nature of creativity.  In 2010-2011, I collaborated with Italian neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese, one of the discoverers of Mirror Neurons in primate brains, to develop a theory of embodied simulation in literary narratives.  My interview with Gallese and our article “How Stories Make Us Feel” was published in California Italian Studies in 2011, and is available online, as well as this website.  We are currently collaborating on a longer study of embodied simulation.

brainpic

I have recently edited Shakespeare’s Cymbeline for the New Kittredge Shakespeare Series, which will be published in 2013 by Focus Pullins.  This edition of the play includes performance notes—one of the special features of the series--and relies on film and stage productions of Cymbeline to introduce the reader to one of Shakespeare’s most engaging romances.

My other research interests include the history of gender and sexuality, early modern women’s writing, Tudor and Jacobean theater, travel narratives and 16th-century colonialism, the impact of science and technology on literature, and vice versa, the history and practice of literary criticism and theory, and the writings of French philosopher Michel Foucault.

 

"Virgil's Brain" photo by Dr. Harvey Sussman, Department of Linguistics, and my Neurolinguistics mentor.

Awards (selected):

  • President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award (2011)
  • Faculty Fellow, Humanities Institute, University of Texas (2009)
  • University Research Institute Faculty Research Award (2008)
  • Raymond Dickson Centennial Endowed Teaching Fellowship (2007-2008)
  • Dads Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship (2004-2005)
  • Rockefeller Resident Fellowship, Institute for the Study of Violence, Survival, and Culture, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (2002)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, Huntington Library (2001)
  • K. Garth Huston and Fletcher Jones Foundation Fellow, Huntington Library (2000)
  • Pforzheimer Fellowship, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas (1999)

Affiliated Research/Academic Unit:

Center for European Studies

Center for Women's and Gender Studies 

South Asia Institute

 

Interests

the history of subjectivity; group identity formation; globalization and transculturation; sixteenth-century travel literature; women writers in early modern Europe; neurocriticism

C L 381 • Imagintn, Columbus/Shakespeare

33955 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm PAR 310
(also listed as E 392M )
show description

"There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism."

                                                      --Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History"

Early modern European narratives reporting on the so-called New World and its inhabitants provide strange and fascinating glimpses of cross-cultural encounters. Represented in these writings are conflicting beliefs and fantasies about the world and its diverse peoples; these would have a profound impact on virtually every culture around the globe, as the modern world came into being.  In this course we will study several important 15th- and 16th-century accounts of travel, encounter and conquest, in order to understand how the creative phenomenon called the Renaissance was closely tied to the global circulation and redistribution of material goods, knowledge and ideas; the enforced labor or enslavement of large groups of people; and genocide.

In this course will focus on one particular fantasy and reality that runs through numerous European travel narratives of this time period:  namely, the cannibal.  How did tales of New World cannibalism shape Europeans’ views of the terra incognita to the west, and how were such tales used to justify colonialism?  How did American natives receive and react to the fantasies that were projected onto them during the early colonial era?  How did imagined and real acts cannibalism, some performed by Europeans, shape their views of themselves? What was the phenomenon that I call “the cannibal imagination,” and why does it persist even day?  These are some of the primary questions to be considered in this course.

Our reading selections include a remarkable early piece of North American (and, loosely speaking, Texan) literature: Cabeza de Vaca’s Relation; Léry’s ambivalent account of his visits with cannibal tribes of Brazil; Staden’s hair-raising story of being held in captivity and his near-cannibalization; the De Bry family’s visual narratives of New World natives, including cannibal tribes (a precursor to graphic novels—and I do mean graphic); and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, anearly 17th-century homage to the cannibal on the eve of his disappearance.

Students in this course will be asked to write a 5-6 page interpretive essay, a 15-25 page research paper, and one oral report.  They will also be asked to make use of the extensive collections of early modern books at the HRC and Benson libraries.  Two class visits will be held in those collections.

About languages:  Many of the texts in this course were not originally written in English.  Students who know other European languages will be encouraged to read these works in the original, though I will order top English translations.

Primary Texts:

Columbus, Diary of the First Voyage

Chanca, Letter from the Second Voyage.

Vespucci, The New World; Four Voyages

Las Casas, Brief History of the Destruction of the Indies

Cabeza de Vaca, Relation

Léry, History of a Voyage to the Land of Brasil

Staden, True History of his Captivity

Montaigne, “Of Cannibals”

De Bry, Grands Voyages

Raleigh, Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Bewtiful Empyre of Guiana

Hakluyt, Voyages (excerpts)

Shakespeare, The Tempest

Plus a packet of historical and analytical companion readings on the history and literature of cannibalism, including excerpts from the following:

  • C. Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind
  • W. Arens, The Man-Eating Myth
  • F. Lestringant, Cannibal Encounters
  • S. Greenblatt, Learning to Curse
  • S. Greenblatt, ed., New World Encounters
  • S. Wilson, Archaeology of the Caribbean
  • M. Kilgore, From Communion to Cannibalism
  • H. Wojciehowski, Group Identity in the Renaissance World

Filmic component: 

“Cabeza de Vaca” (1991) dir. Nicolás Echevarría

“Even the Rain” (2010) dir. Icíar Bollaín

“How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman” (1971), dir. Nelson Pereira dos Santos

“Quilombo” (1974), dir. Carlos Diegues

“The Tempest” (2010), dir. Julie Taymor

“Avatar” (2009), dir. James Cameron

 

C L 382 • How Stories Make Us Feel

34380 • Spring 2014
Meets MW 1100am-1230pm CAL 323
(also listed as E 393M )
show description

This course is designed as an introduction to cognitive/affective cultural studies, a recent body of theory that has arisen at the intersection(s) between literary narratology, neuroscience, phenomenology, cognitive psychology, and many other fields.  These remarkable conversations have opened up new perspectives on classic questions of subjectivity and intersubjectivity, including the following:

• What is empathy, and what are its underlying neural mechanisms?

• How are empathy and social identification related?

• Under what conditions does empathy fail?

• What is embodied Theory of Mind, and how does it differ from earlier models of human consciousness, especially psychoanalysis?

• What do literature and other art forms reveal about the human mind and its workings?

• What are the possible relations between narrative art and “real life”?

• Does art save lives, ‘humanize’ us, or make us better people, however we might define ‘better’?

In this course we will explore this rich terrain, reading some of the most influential and speculative of recent theorists of embodied mind, including Antonio Damasio, V. S. Ramachandran, Shaun Gallagher, Vittorio Gallese and Marco Iacoboni. We will also read philosophers, scientists and literary scholars who are theorizing empathy.  And, most importantly for our purposes, we will read and study works by literary theorists who have taken the ‘cognitive turn’ (or cognitive-affective turn) in order to understand how this emergent critical paradigm is transforming our field. These include Suzanne Keen, Patrick Colm Hogan, Elizabeth Grosz, Alan Palmer, Alan Richardson, Elaine Scarry, Ellen Spolsky, Blakey Vermeule, Robin Warhol, and Lisa Zunshine.

In addition to studying a cross-disciplinary dialogue with huge stakes for basically everybody, we will also consider the relation of this very recent body of scholarship to precursor theories of empathy and identification.  Hence, in our class discussions, we will think of ways to relate these recent works to other literary theories that have explored the problems of intersubjectivity, identification and dis-identification--including Girardian narratology, feminisms, queer and gender theory; trauma theory; post-colonialisms; performance theory, and psychoanalyses.

This course will provide students with a number of useful tools for thinking about literary texts, cultural history, and interdisciplinarity.  It is designed to explore the right now of theory—something which literary criticism and theory anthologies generally neglect to do.  It is also designed to explore each student’s disparate exposures to literary theory and to bring them into synthesis.  It is both a focused exploration and a broad survey; there is much that we will, of necessity, leave out.

Literary texts and films to be studied:

Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Wm. Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

Van Jordan, M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A

Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

Alfred Hitchcock, “Notorious”

C L 382 • How Stories Make Us Feel

34025 • Spring 2011
Meets MW 1100am-1230pm CBA 4.336
(also listed as E 393M )
show description

How Stories Make Us Feel:  The Cognitive Turn in Literary Studies
Hannah Chapelle Wojciehowski

Description:  This course is designed as an introduction to neurocriticism, a recent body of theory that has arisen at the intersection(s) between literary narratology, neuroscience, phenomenology, cognitive psychology, and many other fields.  This remarkable conversation has opened up new perspectives on classic questions of subjectivity and intersubjectivity, including the following:

• What is empathy, and what are its underlying neural mechanisms?
• How are empathy and social identification related?
• What is embodied Theory of Mind, and how does it differ from earlier models of human consciousness?
• What do literature and other art forms reveal about the human mind and its workings? 
• What are the possible relations between narrative art and “real life”? 
• Does art save lives, ‘humanize’ us, or make us better people, however we might define ‘better’?
• How does neurocriticism allow us to reconceptualize the traditional discourses of aesthetics?

In this course we will explore this rich terrain, reading some of the most influential and speculative of recent theorists of mind, including Antonio Damasio, V. S. Ramachandran, Andy Clark, George Lakoff, Mark Turner, and Mark Johnson, Giacomo Rizzolatti, Vittorio Gallese, Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch.  We will also read philosophers, scientists and literary scholars who are theorizing empathy, including Stephen Pinker, Shaun Gallagher, and Suzanne Keen.  And, most importantly for our purposes, we will read and study works by literary theorists who have taken the ‘cognitive turn’—among them Patrick Colm Hogan, Lisa Zunshine, Ellen Spolsky, Frederick Luis Aldama, Mary Thomas Crane, Alan Richardson, Elaine Scarry, and Robyn Warhol, and Alan Palmer, in order to understand how this emergent critical paradigm is transforming our field.

In addition to studying neurocriticism as an exciting cross-disciplinary dialogue with huge stakes for basically everybody, we will also consider the relation of this very recent body of scholarship to precursor theories of empathy and identification.  Hence, in our class discussions, we will think of ways to relate these recent works to other literary theories that have explored the problems of intersubjectivity, identification and dis-identification--including Bakhtinian and Girardian narratology, feminisms, queer and gender theory; trauma theory; post-colonialisms; performance theory, and psychoanalyses.

This course will provide students with a number of useful tools for thinking about literary texts, cultural history, and interdisciplinarity.  It is designed to explore the right now of theory—something which literary criticism and theory anthologies generally neglect to do.  It is also designed to explore each student’s disparate exposures to literary theory and to bring them into synthesis.  It is both a focused exploration and a broad survey; there is much that we will, of necessity, leave out.  

Partial reading list (most of these readings will be excerpted)
Alan Richardson and Ellen Spolsky, The Work of Fiction: Cognition, Culture, and Complexity
Lisa Zunshine, Strange Concepts and the Stories They Make Possible: Cognition, Culture, Narrative
Suzanne Keen, Empathy and the Novel
Shaun Gallagher, How the Body Shapes the Mind
Patrick Colm Hogan, The Mind and its Stories: Narrative Universals and Human Emotion
Robyn Warhol, Having a Good Cry: Effeminate Feelings and Pop-Culture Forms
Antonio Damasio, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness
Vittorio Gallese, selected articles
V. F. Ramachandran, A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Imposter Poodles to Purple Numbers
Giacomo Rizzolati and Corrado Sinigaglia, Mirrors in the Brain: How Our Minds Share Actions and Emotions

Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past (selections)
William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale
A. Van Jordan, M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A
Vikas Swarup, Q. & A.
Danny Boyle, dir., Slumdog Millionaire

Assignments and grading:
Meditations (one per class; one page each):  30%
1st paper (5 pages): 20%
2nd research paper (15-20 pages) 50%

The Global Renaissance

under construction

The Foucault Project

 under construction

 

foucault

How Stories Make Us Feel

Currently I am working in the emergent field of Cognitive-Affective Cultural Studies, applying new discoveries in social-cognitive neuroscience to literary narratology, theatrical performance and aesthetics.  This interdisciplinary field holds great promise for advancing our shared understanding of the human mind and our social world, as well as the nature of creativity. 

In 2010-2011, I collaborated with Italian neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese, one of the discoverers of Mirror Neurons in primate brains, to develop a theory of embodied simulation in literary narratives.  My interview with Gallese and our article “How Stories Make Us Feel” was published in California Italian Studies in 2011, and is available online, as well as this website.  We are currently collaborating on a longer study of embodied simulation.

My essay "Statues That Move: Vitality Effects in The Winter's Tale" explores the transferred experience of vitality in Act V, Scene II, of Shakespeare's late romance, which arcs alteroceptively from the movements and gestures of the players on stage to the felt experiences of viewers in the audience.  This essay, together with a response by cognitive cultural historian Ellen Spolsky, will appear in a special issue of Literature and Theology early in 2014. 

 

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HCW with "Virgil's Brain." Photo and wetware provided by Dr. Harvey Sussman, Department of Linguistics.

 

Course Offerings in this area:

Graduate students interesting in learning more about Cognitive-Affective Cultural Studies (also known as Cognitive Cultural Studies or Neurocriticism) are invited to take my graduate seminar E392m, "How Stories Make Us Feel," which will be offered in Spring 2014.  Do new theories of embodied cognition deepen our understanding of the writing and reading of literary works?  Read what cutting edge literary critics, phiosophers, and scientists have to say about these questions, then decide for yourselves.

Plan II juniors are invited to join my Plan II TC 357, "The Snow Bridge," which focuses on the potential gains, as well as risks, of interdisciplinary studies in the humanities and sciences.  The title riffs on C.P. Snow's book The Two Cultures.  This course will be offered in Spring 2014 and again in Spring 2015.

Lower-division students are invited to take my introductory UGS302 course, "Film, Fiction, and Narrative Empathy," which  introduces students to new discoveries in the neuroscience of empathy and applies some of those findings to the analysis of great works of literature and cinema.  This course satisfies the University's USG requirement.  This course will be offered in Spring 2015.

Publications

Edition of Shakespeare's Cymbeline. The New Kittredge Shakespeare. Series Editor James H. Lake.  Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing, 2014.

How Stories Make Us Feel: Toward an Embodied Narratology

Journal Issue:  California Italian Studies, 2(1)

Author: Wojciehowski, Hannah, University of Texas, Austin

Gallese, Vittorio, University of Parma, Italy

Publication Date: 2011

Publication Info:

California Italian Studies, Italian Studies Multicampus Research Group, UC Office of the President

Permalink: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3jg726c2

"The Mirror Neuron Mechanism and Literary Studies: An Interview with Vittorio Gallese," California Italian Studies 2, No. 1 (2010).

Permalink: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/56f8v9bv

 

Keywords:

Mirror Neurons, Mirror Neuron Mechanism, neurocriticism, Vittorio Gallese, neuroscience 

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Group Identity in the Renaissance World.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

 

http://www.cambridge.org/us/knowledge/isbn/item6038442/?site_locale=en_US

“Assessing Empathy: A Slumdog Questionnaire,” Image [&] Narrative 11, No. 2 (2010): 123-145.

“Triangulation in Humanist Friendship:  More, Erasmus, Giles, and the Making of Utopia, Discourses and Representations of Friendship in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700, ed. Daniel T. Lochman, Maritere Lopez, and Lorna Hutson.  Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate, 2011. 45-63.

O Dente do Bugio: Relics, Religion and Rivalry in 16th-Century Ceylon and Goa.”

Santa Barbara Portuguese Studies IX (2007): 234-253.

“The Queen of Onor and Her Emissaries:  Fernão Mendes Pinto’s Dialogue with India,” Emissaries in Early Modern Literature and Culture—Mediation, Tranmission, Traffic:  1550-1700, ed. Brinda S. Charry and Gitanjali Shahani.  Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate, 2009.  167-191.

“Literary Theory,” Encyclopedia of British Literature, ed. David Scott Kastan.  5 vols.  Vol. 3.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.  301-313.

 “Sex, Death, and Poetry in Cinquecento Venice: Veronica Franco vs. Maffio Venier.”  Italica 83, Nos. 3 and 4 (2006): 367-390. 

 “Francis Petrarch: First Modern Friend,” Texas Studies in Language and

Literature 47, No. 4 (Winter 2005): 269-298.

“St. Augustine.”  The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Criticism and Theory.  Eds. Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth.  2nd ed.  Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994, 2005.  57-58. 

Birth Passages: Maternity and Nostalgia, Antiquity to Shakespeare.  By Theresa M. Krier.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001.  Xvii+266 pp.  Modern Philology 102, No. 3 (Feb. 2005):  410-413.

“Religion, Rivalry, and Relics in 16th-Century Goa: The Destruction and Return of the Dalada.”  Manushi.  New Delhi, India. June, 2004.

Wojciehowski.H.C. (2001) Print, Manuscript, Performance: The Changing Relations of the Media in Early Modern England. Libraries and Culture Libraries and Culture

Old Masters, New Subjects: Early Modern and Poststructuralist Theories of Will (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995).

 

http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=2383

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