Workman  Updated regularly, and I will continue to update this, the syllabus for The Book and the Brain, Spring 2002.



Norman N. Holland

Head and Brain
ver. 011215
ENG 4936
Meets in: Matherly 251
My office: Turlington 4221
My secretary, Mrs. Moreno:
  Turlington 4730
on Wednesdays at 4:05-7:05 p.m. (periods W 9-11)
But please use the telephone
392-7332 (O) or 377-0096 (HO)
or, best of all, e-mail:

    This class memorandum is long, but I hope you will be able to use it as a sort of manual to the seminar. Hence I have tried to include all the information you need, for example, at the end, proper MLA-style references to all the readings. I have also tried to anticipate and answer all the questions you might ask. This is a totalizing effort, I am happy to say, doomed to deconstruct, and I look forward to talking with you about the particular questions you have. Nevertheless, I hope that you will find this memo useful and that you will look it over repeatedly before and during the semester.

    This is an exploratory seminar in a new field: the relation between what we are finding out about the brain--cognitive science--and what we think we know about literature. In the last two decades we have seen an explosion of knowledge about the brain. I'm interested in how the new discoveries about the brain and the processes of perception, memory, word recognition, cognitive development, reading, metaphor, and personal identity, might bear on some of our ideas in literary criticism and theory.

    These are some of the questions I hope to discuss: How do our brains perceive a text? How are language capabilities embodied in the brain and how do they function? How do we acquire a persistent personality and with it a literary style? What is a possible brain basis for shared audience responses? How does metaphor enter into cognition? How do cultural materials have an evolutionary effect? What in the brain makes trouble for reader-response critics? What is the "willing suspension of disbelief"? What are the relative roles of the mammalian and neo-mammalian brains in responding to literature? What are the kinds of memory and how do they enter into literary response? How does culture get inscribed in a child's growing brain? In general, how does the new knowledge about the brain bear on our understanding of literature and the literary processes of creation and response?

    The course syllabus will be available online at: Since there will be changes from time to time, please make a practice of checking it and printing out new copies as you need them. In addition, after each class I will post my notes (caveat: the discussion may depart considerably from the notes).

Books to purchase:

Pinker, The Language Instinct (HarperCollins, paperback)

Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (University of Chicago, paperback)

Bownds, The Biology of Mind (Fitzgerald, paperback)

These are available at Goerings' bookstore (next to Bageland), and you should support your local, independent bookseller. Each week, I will make available the other readings in texts you have not purchased. Some will be handouts, and some will be posted online. Where readings are indicated below as "online," you should download them and print them on your own computers.

  1. January 09. Introduction. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Two approaches to cognitive science
    2. Three kinds of brain. Igor
    3. Five modes of brain explanation: molecular; cellular; systemic; behavioral; cognitive
    4. Essential terms (handout and online)
    5. A short list of perhaps helpful books. Online
    6. Optional reading: Holland, "The Neurosciences and the Arts." Online

  2. January 16. Where Is a Text? We will be building some neurological knowledge and considering what is perhaps the most basic assumption in thinking about literature. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Brain materials:
      1. Pictures of the brain: handout for black and white and online for color.
      2. Damasio, "Some Pointers on the Anatomy of the Nervous System." Handout
      3. Bownds, chs. 1-5 and 8.
    2. Reader-response theory
      1. Holland, "Where Is a Text?" Handout

  3. January 23. What Is Language? We will explore the Chomskyan revolution. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Pinker, Language Instinct, chs. 4-7,pp. 83-230.
    2. Fowler, "`Hard-Wired' Grammar Rules Found.'" Handout or available online:

  4. January 30. How Do We Do Language? We will look at classical and recent accounts of language processing in the brain. Notes for this session are now online.
    1. From the point of view of the neuroscientist
      1. Bownds, ch. 11, pp. 264-282. Handout
      2. Robeck and Wallace, "Brain Functions of Language," Ch. 6, pp. 143-177. Handout
      3. Bear, et al., Neuroscience, 576-601. Handout
    2. From the point of view of the linguist
      1. Pinker, Words and Rules, "The Black Box," "A Digital Mind," Chs. 9-10, pp. 241-287, 309-312. Handout
    3. From the point of view of the psychologist
      1. Anderson, "The Notion of Schemata," Schooling and the Acquisition of Knowledge, pp. 415-31. Handout

  5. February 6. Whence Language? Why Literature? An introduction to evolutionary psychology and the problem of language. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Pinker, Language Instinct, "Baby Born Talking," "Language Organs," "The Big Bang," chs. 9-11, pp. 262-369.
    2. Osborne, "A Linguistic Big Bang." Online:
    3. Tooby and Cosmides, "Does Beauty Build Adapted Minds?" Handout
    4. Hart, "Cognitive evolution and the modularity of mind," unpub. Handout
    5. Miller, Review of Deacon, The Symbolic Species. Handout
    6. Arbib and Rizzolatti, "Neural Expectations." Handout

  6. February 13. What Is Style? We each have personal styles of writing and reading--what does that tell us about us? Notes for this session are now online
    1. Style
      1. Ohmann, "Generative Grammars and . . . Literary Style." Handout
      2. Ohmann, "Linguistic Appraisal of Victorian Style." Handout
      3. Holland, "Prose and Minds." Handout
    2. Toward next week:
      1. Bownds, Biology of Mind, chs. 6-7, pp. 119-176

  7. February 20. Who Are You? How Did You Become You (1)? We will be considering a psychoanalytic concept of personal identity and its relation to how you read and write. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Theme-and-variations identity; identity from outside.
      1. The I, pp. 1-79. Online
      2. The Growing and Ungrowing Brain; brain identity.
        1. Begley, "Your Child's Brain." Handout
        2. Holland, Brain of Robert Frost, pp. 6-8. Handout
      3. Autopoeisis; identity and the death instinct
        1. Schore, "Comment on `Emotions: Neuro-Psychoanalytic Views'" Handout
        2. Nahum, Review of Schore book. Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 1.2 (1999): 258-263. Handout
        3. Donald, Origins of the Modern Mind, pp. 142-3. Handout
        4. Holland, "Again-ness." Online

  8. February 27. Where is Knowing? We will be finding out about feedback, schemas, PDP, and modules. BOOK SUMMARIES DUE ON FEB. 25. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Feedback:
      1. Holland, Brain of Robert Frost, pp. 71-89. Handout
    2. Schemas:
      1. Abelson, "Psychological Status of the Script Concept." Handout
      2. Rumelhart, "Schemata." Handout
    3. Modularity:
      1. "Modules of the Brain," Scientific American (no further reference). Handout
      2. Bear et al., Neuroscience, pp. 265-66. Handout
      3. Fodor, "The Modularity of Mind." Handout
      4. Fodor, "Jerry Fodor's Response" . Handout
      5. Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind; The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Chapters 3, 10: The Architecture of the Modern Mind, So How Did It Happen? (33-60, 185-94). Handout
    4. PDP: NNH's explanation

    March 4-8. SPRING BREAK

  9. March 13. What Are Emotions? We will be looking at the neurological theory of emotions. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Bownds, ch. 10, pp. 228-261
    2. Pally, "Emotional Processing." Handout
    3. Bear, et al., Neuroscience, ch. 16, pp. 432-456. Handout
    4. Oatley and Johnson-Laird. NNH summary.

  10. March 20. How Did You Become You (2)? Identity from inside. And we will be looking at learning and memory. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Identity from inside. Sense of self.
      1. Gazzaniga, Nature's Mind, pp. 120-137. Handout
      2. Damasio, Feeling of What Happens, pp. 15-26, 174, 175. Handout
    2. Learning and Memory
      1. Bownds, Biology of Mind, ch. 12, pp. 285-311.
      2. Blakeslee, "Brain-Updating Machinery." Handout
      3. Pally, "Memory." Handout
      4. Pally, "How Brain Development is Shaped." Handout

  11. March 27. What Is an Audience? What Is Genre? We will be discussing our imitative, interpersonal selves. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Cialdini, "The Science of Persuasion." Handout
    2. Fadiga et al., "Visuomotor neurons." Handout
    3. Rizzolatti et al., "Language within our grasp." Handout
    4. Brothers, Friday's Footprint, "The Brain's Social Specialization," "The Editor Speaks," "The Shift to a Social Perspective," "Talking Faces," chs. 3-6, 31-99. Handout
    5. Holland, "The Willing Suspension of Disbelief." Online
      Willing, I. Psychodynamics
      Willing, II. Neuroscience
      Willing, III. Neuro-psychoanalytic

  12. April 3. How Do We Read? We will discuss the standard psychology of reading. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Smith, Understanding Reading, "Identification of Meaning," "Reading, Writing, and Thinking," chs. 9-10, pp. 148-179, and "Notes," 276-88. Handout
    2. Crowder and Wagner, Psychology of Reading, "The Word in Context," "Comprehension," chs. 6-7, pp. 93-136. Handout
    3. Hilts, "Brain's Memory System." Handout
    4. Taylor, "Language and Brain," 362-394. Handout

  13. April 10. What Is Metaphor? BOOK SUMMARIES DUE ON APR. 8. Notes for this session are now online
    1. Basic theory.
      1. Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, chs. 1-17, 20, 25-30.
    2. Role of body in primary schemas
      1. Damasio, Descartes' Error, "The Body-Minded Brain," pp. 223-244. Handout
      2. Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, "Time," "The Mind," "The Self," chs. 12, 13, pp. 235-289. Handout

  14. April 17. Can We Use These Theories to Study a Single Poem? We will consider an analysis of the metaphors in a Williams poem, and we will draw what conclusions we can from the semester's work.
    1. Gibbs and Nascimento, "How We Talk When We Talk About Love," Handout
    2. Lakoff and Turner, More than Cool Reason, "Single Poem," "Great Chain of Being," chs. 3-4, pp. 140-213. Handout
    3. General discussion and remaining questions

  15. April 24. FINAL EXAM

Papers and Grades

    After soul-searching, I've concluded that it is not reasonable to ask you to write a paper in cognitive science on the basis of one seminar. Instead, I've decided to give a three-hour final exam on the last day of the seminar. This will count for 50% of your final grade.

    Students' comments on this procedure in earlier years asked that the exam on which your grade rests be spread out, either by a practice exam or a midterm. This is certainly a possibility. Let's discuss it after a few weeks.

    In order to cover as much ground as possible, the seminar will use student summaries of some texts instead of everyone's reading them.

    Your grades on these summaries will count for 30% of your final grade. The remaining 20% will represent my estimate of your performance in discussion and on-line and my estimate of how much I think you have learned in the seminar.

Instructions for Writing Summaries

    The summary must be sent on-line to me and the other members of the seminar by 5:00 Monday before class meeting (in order to give the rest of us time to read and assimilate it).

    It must be no longer than one typewritten page (one side) single-spaced. In computer terms, that translates to 56 lines of 65 characters each, or a file of 3640 bytes.

    Keep in mind the purpose of these summaries: to give people who have not read the book or article its essentials. Think of what you write as reading notes that would give you the gist long after you have forgotten the details. Do not, repeat NOT, write an evaluative book review--that does not help your colleagues. Do not cram into the limited space. Synthesize. Outline. Get at the essence.

    Upper left: your name; beneath it, the date due; beneath that, put in the author, title, etc., of what you are reporting on in proper MLA bibliography form. (See the MLA Handbook.) For your convenience, I have included all the seminar readings in proper MLA form in the bibliography below.

    Skip a line and put down in one page the essentials of what you would like your audience to be able to recall about this item. Outline--that is really the key to making your summary both concise and helpful.

    Send your summary online to the rest of of the seminar.


    This seminar presumes no previous knowledge of cognitive science, neurology, or psychology. We will not be doing much in the way of purely literary work either, since some students will be from psychology or other non-literary programs. This is an exploratory seminar.

Doing the Reading

    Some in the seminar will know a good deal about linguistics or neuroscience or cognitive science--I hope to draw on your knowledge. Most in the seminar will be exploring a new discipline. I think you will do best if you adopt a tactic of total immersion. Read very hard and read everything you can manage in the opening weeks of the seminar. I think you will find that, after you have mastered the vocabulary and some of the basic concepts and issues, the rest of the reading will come easier. Notice in the Reading Schedule that the readings ease up toward the end of the semester. Work hard at the beginning, and you will have a much easier time at the end.

    The reading is heavy, so students tell me year after year. I know. But the last time I gave this course, one student said he had had little trouble with the amount of reading. How come? What he did was divide the assignment into eight equal parts and faithfully read one part each day from one class meeting to the next. I've tried this technique myself on some heavy reading, and it works! I highly recommend it.


Abelson, Robert P. "Psychological Status of the Script Concept." American Psychologist 36.7 (1981): 715-29.

Anderson, Richard C. "The notion of schemata and the educational enterprise: general discussion of the conference." Schooling and the Acquisition of Knowledge. Anderson, Richard C., Rand J. Spiro, and William E. Montague, eds. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1977.

Arbib, Michael A., and Giacomo Rizzolati. "Neural Expectations: A Possible Evolutionary Path from Manual Skills to Language." The Nature of Concepts: Evolution, Structure and Representation. Ed. Philip Van Loocke. London and New York: Routledge, 1999. 128-54.

Bear, Mark F., Barry W. Connors, and Michael A. Paradiso. Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain. Baltimore MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1996.

Begley, Sharon. "Your Child's Brain." Newsweek Feb. 19 1996, 54+.

Binder, J. R. et al. "Conceptual Processing during the Conscious Resting State." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 11.1 (1999): 80-93.

Blakeslee, Sandra. "Brain-Updating Machinery May Explain False Memories." New York Times, September 19, 2000. Section F; Page 7; Column 2; Health & Fitness.

Bownds, M. Deric. The Biology of Mind: Origins and Structures of Mind, Brain, and Consciousness. Bethesda MD: Fitzgerald Science, 1999.

Brothers, Leslie. Friday's Footprint: How Society Shapes the Human Mind. New York: Oxford UP, 1997.

Cialdini, Robert B. "The Science of Persuasion." Scientific American, February 2001, 76-81.

Crowder, Robert G., and Richard K. Wagner. The Psychology of Reading: An Introduction. 2nd Ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.

Damasio, Antonio R. Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York: Grosset/Putnam, 1994.

Damasio, Antonio R. The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999.

Dissanayake, Ellen. Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1995.

Donald, Merlin. Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition. Cambridge MA: Harvard UP, 1991.

Edelman, Gerald M. Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind. New York: BasicBooks, 1992.

Fadiga, Luciano, et al. "Visuomotor Neurons: Ambuiguity of the Discharge or `Motor' Perception?" International Journal of Psychophysiology 35 (2000): 165-177.

Fodor, Jerry. "Jerry Fodor's Response." Meaning and Cognitive Structure: Issues in the Computational Theory of Mind. Eds Zenon W. Pylyshyn and William Demopoulos. Norwood NJ: Ablex, 1986. 129-35.

-----. "The Modularity of Mind." Meaning and Cognitive Structure: Issues in the Computational Theory of Mind. Eds Zenon W. Pylyshyn and William Demopoulos. Norwood NJ: Ablex, 1986. 3-18.

Fowler, Brenda. "`Hard-Wired' Grammar Rules Found for All Languages." The New York Times, 15 January 2002, Late Edition-Final, Section F, Science News; Page 5; Column 2.

Gazzaniga, Michael S. Nature's Mind: The Biological Roots of Thinking, Emotions, Sexuality, Language, and Intelligence. New York: Basic, 1992.

Gibbs, Raymond W., Jr., and Solange B. Nascimento. “How we Talk When we Talk About Love: Metaphorical Concepts and Understanding Love Poetry.” Empirical Approaches to Literature and Aesthetics. Ed. Roger J. Kreuz and Mary Sue MacNealy. Norwood NJ: Ablex, 1996.

Glynn, Ian. An Anatomy of Thought: The Origin and Machinery of the Mind. New York: Oxford UP, 1999.

Hart, F. Elizabeth. "Cognitive Evolution and the Modularity of Mind." Paper Presented at "Thinking the Brain and Beyond," Society for Literature and Science. Gainesville FL, 1998.

Hilts, Philip J. "Brain's Memory System Comes Into Focus." New York Times May 30 1995, C-1-3.

Holland, Norman N. The Brain of Robert Frost. New York and London: Routledge, 1989.

-----. The I. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1985.

-----. "Prose and Minds: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Non-fiction." The Art of Victorian Prose. Eds George Levine and William Madden. New York: Oxford UP, 1968.

-----. "The Neurosciences and the Arts."

-----. "Again-ness."

-----. "The Willing Suspension of Disbelief."

-----. "Where is a Text? A Neurological View." In press: New Literary History 33.1 (Winter, 2002): 21-38.

Lakoff, George. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic, 1999.

-----, and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 1980.

-----, and Mark Turner. More Than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 1989.

Ledoux, Joseph. The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life. New York: Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 1998.

Miller, William Hans. "Review of The Symbolic Species by Terrence Deacon." Neuro-Psychoanalysis 1.1 (1999): 130-35.

Mithen, Steven. "The Architecture of the Modern Mind." The Prehistory of the Mind; the Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Ch. 3, pp. 33-60.

-----. "So How Did It Happen?" The Prehistory of the Mind; the Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Ch. 10, pp. 185-94.

Nahum, Jeremy P. Review of Allan N. Schore, Affect Regulation and the Origins of the Self. Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 1.2 (1999): 258-263.

Ohmann, Richard. "Generative Grammars and the Concept of Literary Style." Word 20 (1964): 423-39.

-----. "A Linguistic Appraisal of Victorian Style." The Art of Victorian Prose. Eds. George Levine and William Madden. New York: Oxford UP, 1968. 289-313.

Osborne, Lawrence. "A Linguistic Big Bang." New York Times Magazine 24 Oct 1999.

Pally, Regina. "Emotional Processing: The Mind-body Connection." International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 79.2 (1998): 349-62.

-----. "How Brain Development is Shaped by Genetic and Environmental Factors." International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 78.4 (1997): 587-93.

-----. "Memory: Brain Systems That Link Past, Present, and Future." International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 78.6 (1997): 1223-34.

Pinker, Stephen. Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. New York: Basic, 1999.

-------. The Language Instinct. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994.

-------. How the Mind Works. New York: Norton, 1999.

Ratey, John J. User's Guide to the Brain: Personality, Behavior, and the Four Theaters of the Brain. New York: Pantheon, 2001.

Restak, Richard. The Brain. New York: Bantam Books, 1984.

-------. The Mind. New York: Bantam Books, 1988.

Rizzolati, Giacomo, and Michael A. Arbib. "Languge Within Our Grasp." Trends in Neuroscience 21.5 (1998): 188-94.

Robeck, Mildred C., and Randall R. Wallace. The Psychology of Reading: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1990.

Rumelhart, D. E. "Schemata: The Building Blocks of Cognition." Theoretical Issues in Reading Comprehension: Perspectives from Cognitive Psychology, Linguistics, Artificial Intelligence, and Education. Eds. Rand J. Spiro, Bertram C. Bruce, and William F. Brewer. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1980.

Sapolsky, Robert M. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-related Diseases, and Coping. New York and San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1998.

Schore, Allan N. "Commentary on `Emotions: Neuro-Psychoanalytic Views.'" Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 1.1 (1999): 48-55.

Smith, Frank. Understanding Reading: A Psycholinguistic Analysis of Reading and Learning to Read. Edition no. 4. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1988.

Taylor, Insup, with M. Martin Taylor. Psycholinguistics: Learning and Using Language. Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990.

Tooby, John, and Leda Cosmides. "Does Beauty Build Adapted Minds? Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Aesthetics, Fiction, and the Arts." SubStance 94/95 (2001): 6-27.

Turner, Mark. Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science. Princeton: Princeton U P, 1991.