Literary utterances reflect the situatedness of cognition itself both through their historico-cultural specificity and through their deployment of highly particularized language. It follows that the literary archive (in the broadest sense, all forms of storytelling, fiction, poetry, song, drama, and their offshoots) is also a cognitive archive and that a history of cognition and of reflection on cognition might be traced through imaginative literature rather than through a history of science, a history of philosophy, or a history of ideas. In such a project, the local and contextual aspects of the archive would be taken into account not just as contingent factors but as part of the exercise of calibrating the cultural reach of cognition: what it is capable of, and its constraints, in different local ecologies. The literary archive, it will be argued, offers to the interdisciplinary field of cognitive studies a reservoir of potential insights into the embodied interconnectivity of cognitive process together with a critical language which is enactive, context oriented, sensitive to the conditions of live cultural ecologies. The essay features textual examples drawn from the writings of Michel de Montaigne and Andrew Marvell.
Terence Cave; Situated Cognition: The Literary Archive. Poetics Today 1 June 2017; 38 (2): 235–253. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-3868486
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