An international conference at the University of Vienna.

Dates: 9-10 June 2014

Conference Programme

Conference Programme, Booklet of Abstracts and Poster

The Conference Theme

Recent research in the cognitive sciences has inspired a wealth of new approaches to the study of mind, consciousness and embodied experience. For researchers in the humanities, the cognitive turn has challenged long-established definitions of what it means to be human. This conference will scrutinise the implications of neuroscientific research on the ultimately human capacity to create culture (literature, art, music, etc).

Experts in cognitive poetics and the new sub-disciplines of Mind Reading (or Theory of Mind) and the Social Mind will be invited to discuss their understanding and vision of what the cognitive sciences can contribute to a better understanding of culture – as an abstract concept as well as an umbrella term that embraces a vast range of cultural practices.

Questions for debate revolve around the following topics:

  • In what ways have recent arguments about the inseparability between body and mind affected our understanding of culture?
  • Do the cognitive sciences offer new approaches to the understanding of the production and consumption (or aesthetic experience) of culture?
  • In what ways do literature and culture enable us to gain a sense of what is going on in the minds of other people?
  • How can cognitive studies of cultural difference avoid the problem of essentialism, caused by neuropsychological tendencies to generalise (talking about the body, the mind)?
  • How can the methodologies from cognitive poetics be applied to the study of mainstream and popular culture, history and art?
  • Can cognitive methodologies (e.g. concepts from the social mind) offer new approaches to the definition of collective memories and the formation of consensus?


  • Christa Knellwolf King, Guest Professor, English and Comparative Literature, University of Vienna
  • Caterina Grasl (previously Caterina Novák), Postdoctoral Researcher, English Literature, University of Vienna
  • Margarete Rubik, Professor of English Literature, University of Vienna
  • Peter Schneck (Professor of American literature and co-convenor of the "Cognition and Poetics" Research Cluster, Osnabrück University)
  • Alan Palmer (Independent Scholar, author of e.g. Social Minds in the Novel, 2010)
  • Peter Garratt (University of Durham, co-convenor of the AHRC Network "Cognitive Futures in the Humanities")

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