Hannah C Wojciehowski
Professor — Ph.D., 1984, Yale University
Professor of English
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Phone: 471-8768
- Office: PAR 230
- Office Hours: Fall 2012 TTh 2:00 -3:30 and by appt.
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.
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.
- 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 Women's and Gender Studies
South Asia Institute
C L 382 • How Stories Make Us Feel
MW 1100am-1230pm CBA 4.336
(also listed as
E 393M )
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%
Edition of Shakespeare's Cymbeline. The New Kittredge Shakespeare. Series Editor James H. Lake. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing, 2013.
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
California Italian Studies, Italian Studies Multicampus Research Group, UC Office of the President
"The Mirror Neuron Mechanism and Literary Studies: An Interview with Vittorio Gallese," California Italian Studies 2, No. 1 (2010).
Mirror Neurons, Mirror Neuron Mechanism, neurocriticism, Vittorio Gallese, neuroscience
Group Identity in the Renaissance World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
“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).