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Convolutions: Writing the Mind and the Neurology of the Literary Brain

Romén, Reyes-Peschl (2016) Convolutions: Writing the Mind and the Neurology of the Literary Brain. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

A convolution is a loop, or a fold, as the folds of the brain are sometimes termed the cerebral convolutions. But it is a loop in another sense, in the way stories or narratives are often referred to as convolutions (or convoluted) if their plots and themes are complex and resist any linear, straightforward reading. These senses are well established, but in this thesis I propose a new interpretation of convolution (or convolving), as a metaphor for a type of process imbedded in multiple texts, discourses and disciplines, primary amongst which are literature, neuroscience and philosophy of mind. Highlighting this looping, reflexive process means actively engaging in it, as I do, and thus I ultimately promote the heretofore unremarked phenomenon of convolution as a self-conscious practice. The thesis tracks this overarching metaphor of convolutions through a series of sub-metaphors, or instantiations of convolutions, each of which comprises a chapter. The introductory chapter interrogates the revolutionary rhetoric of neuroscience, and proposes a convolutionary approach gleaned from literature to replace it. The first chapter proper explains that science sees itself as a quest with the brain its ultimate goal, but that more often than not, this quest is quixotic - and that if acknowledged, quixotism can actually be illuminating. The second chapter argues that neuroscientists paint themselves in the vein of literary detectives, and in doing so, are as susceptible to the genre's pitfalls as its boons. The third chapter claims that if the brain is a labyrinth, then so too is the brain science that deems it as such, and literature's treatment of the figure of the labyrinth (the treatment itself labyrinthine) can provide a productive framework for analysing this claim. The fourth chapter examines the unchallenged but ubiquitous metaphorical assumption that lies behind the idea of neurons firing, and asks if the overlooked ethical quandary at the nexus of brains and bullets would not benefit from the more self-aware ballistic analyses of literary texts. A concluding chapter brings all these overlapping threads together, suggesting how the notion of convolutions might have important ramifications beyond neuroscience and literature - for new textual methodologies and epistemological categories, for new interdisciplinary endeavours, and above all, for new conceptions of the self.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Stella, Bolaki
Thesis advisor: Charlotte, Sleigh
Uncontrolled keywords: English Literature Neuroscience Neurology Philosophy Literary Theory Cognitive Science
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2017 12:00 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 18:31 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/59807 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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