Jaak Panksepp and Kenneth L. Davis – The Emotional Foundations of Personality: A Neurobiological and Evolutionary Approach

Jaak Panksepp, friend of the Literature and the Mind program and founder of the field of affective neuroscience, has recently published a new book with co-author Kenneth Davis: The Emotional Foundations of Personality: A Neurobiological and Evolutionary Approach.

The Emotional Foundations of Personality

Here is a description, provided by Norton:

A novel approach to understanding personality, based on evidence that we share more than we realize with other mammals.

 

This book presents the wealth of scientific evidence that our personality emerges from evolved primary emotions shared by all mammals. Yes, your dog feels love—and many other things too. These subcortically generated emotions bias our actions, alter our perceptions, guide our learning, provide the basis for our thoughts and memories, and become regulated over the course of our lives.

 

Understanding personality development from the perspective of mammals is a groundbreaking approach, and one that sheds new light on the ways in which we as humans respond to life events, both good and bad.

 

Jaak Panksepp, famous for discovering laughter in rats and for creating the field of affective neuroscience, died in April 2017. This book forms part of his lasting legacy and impact on a wide range of scientific and humanistic disciplines. It will be essential reading for anyone trying to understand how we act in the world, and the world’s impact on us.

Copies of the book are available for perusing in the Literature and the Mind office library.

 

Vera Tobin – Elements of Surprise: Our Mental Limits and the Satisfactions of Plot

Vera Tobin, currently affiliated with Literature and the Mind and formerly a UCSB Arnhold Faculty Fellow (Postdoctoral), has published a new book: Elements of Surprise: Our Mental Limits and the Satisfactions of Plot.

Elements of Surprise

Here is a description, provided by Harvard University Press:

Why do some surprises delight—the endings of Agatha Christie novels, films like The Sixth Sense, the flash awareness that Pip’s benefactor is not (and never was!) Miss Havisham? Writing at the intersection of cognitive science and narrative pleasure, Vera Tobin explains how our brains conspire with stories to produce those revelatory plots that define a “well-made surprise.”

 

By tracing the prevalence of surprise endings in both literary fiction and popular literature and showing how they exploit our mental limits, Tobin upends two common beliefs. The first is cognitive science’s tendency to consider biases a form of moral weakness and failure. The second is certain critics’ presumption that surprise endings are mere shallow gimmicks. The latter is simply not true, and the former tells at best half the story. Tobin shows that building a good plot twist is a complex art that reflects a sophisticated understanding of the human mind.

 

Reading classic, popular, and obscure literature alongside the latest research in cognitive science, Tobin argues that a good surprise works by taking advantage of our mental limits. Elements of Surprise describes how cognitive biases, mental shortcuts, and quirks of memory conspire with stories to produce wondrous illusions, and also provides a sophisticated how-to guide for writers. In Tobin’s hands, the interactions of plot and cognition reveal the interdependencies of surprise, sympathy, and sense-making. The result is a new appreciation of the pleasures of being had.

Copies of the book are available for perusing in the Literature and the Mind office library.

Lit & Mind Conference: Intersubjectivity and Literature

Intersubjectivity & Literature

PANEL ONE: OTHER MINDS: WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

Giorgina Paiella — “‘Listen to My Tale’: Storytelling, Attachment, and the Search for Intersubjectivity in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Casey Coffee — “Progress and Circularity: Ambivalent Words and Gazes in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes

Chip Badley (moderator) — “Henry James and Impersonal Intersubjectivity”

Felice Blake and Julie Carlson — “Just Friends”

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PANEL TWO: MIND-MEETING ACROSS TEXTS AND SPECIES

Rebecca Baker — “Cognitive Cyborgs: Internet Literacy in the Age of the Born-Digital”

Baily Rossi — “The Blossoming Self: Dorothea, Rosamond, and the Intersubjective Moment”

Aili Pettersson Peeker (moderator) — “The Imaginary Powers of Imagination: Address, Anticipation, and Difficult Empathy in Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones

Jessica Zisa — “From Despair to Divine Love: Finding Intersubjectivity through the Matrixial Gaze in A Revelation of Love and The Book of Margery Kempe

Sowon Park — “On Intersubjectivity and Limitrophy”

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PANEL THREE: ON RECOGNITION and REMEMBERING

Maddie Roepe — “‘Damn Your Eyes’: Vision, Tactility, and Distance in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse

Tessa Fieri — “Virginia Woolf and the Moment of Arrest”

Dalia Bolotnikov (moderator) — “Intersubjective Mourning: The Poetic Fragmentation of Fred D’Aguiar and Charles Reznikoff”

Rebecca Chenoweth — “‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’: Shared Memory and Subjectivity in ‘San Junipero’”

Kay Young — “‘On her promise of recognition’: Intersubjectivity and Richard Berengarten’s The Manager

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Corinne Bancroft, Literature and the Mind Research Assistant 2016-17 and recent graduate of our Ph.D. program (June 2018), created a beautiful film featuring faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students who make up our Literature and the Mind community. Accompanying the interviews were images from many of our events over the years. In Corinne’s words, the purpose of the film was to “communicate a sense of the history of Lit and Mind” through interviews with “the professors who helped dream, found, and lead” it and with the students who have been “changed, helped, and influenced” by the “ideas, attachments, and community that have emerged” as a result of Lit and Mind’s existence.

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Introduced by Julie Carlson, Aranye Fradenburg Joy’s keynote address and farewell lecture “Organ/ize This:  Intersubjectivity and Trans-Subjectivity in Critical Organization Studies” began with recent work and findings in the discipline of organization studies, and then moved through the current institutional situation of both Literature and the Mind and our English department as a whole. Her talk confronted problems of institutions, underscored the necessity of compassion and joy within organizations, and led us through ways in which Bracha Ettinger’s matrixial theory of trans-subjectivity could help us rethink and reimagine the vital, vibrant possibilities of both our department and Literature and the Mind.

Aranye's Keynote

After the conference, we gathered for dinner and dancing in celebration and honor of Aranye and all she has done for our community — for Literature and the Mind and UCSB’s English Department.

Celebration

Ben Ogden – Beyond Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism: Between Literature and Mind

Ben Ogden (co-author with father Thomas Ogden of The Analyst’s Ear and the Critic’s Eye: Rethinking Psychoanalysis and Literature) has published a new book of interest to Literature and Mind: Beyond Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism: Between Literature and Mind.

 

Ben Ogden
Here is a description, provided by Routledge:

 

Through a series of radical and innovative chapters, Beyond Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism: Between Literature and Mind challenges the tradition of applied psychoanalysis that has long dominated psychoanalytic literary criticism. Benjamin H. Ogden, a literary scholar, proposes that a new form of analytic literary criticism take its place, one that begins from a place of respect for the mystery of literature and the complexity of its inner workings.

 

In this book, through readings of authors such as J.M. Coetzee, Flannery O’Connor, and Vladimir Nabokov, the mysteries upon which literary works rely for their enduring power are enumerated and studied. Such mysteries are thereafter interwoven into a series of pioneering studies of how the conceptions of thinking, dreaming, and losing become meaningful within the unique aesthetic conditions of individual novels and poems. Each chapter is a provisional solution to the difficult “bridging problems” that arise when literary figures work in the psychoanalytic space, and when psychoanalysts attempt to make use of literature for analytic purposes.

 

At every turn, Beyond Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism: Between Literature and Mind acts as a living example of the territory it explores: the space between two disciplines, wherein the writer brings into being a form of psychoanalytic literary criticism of his own making. Forgoing traditional applied psychoanalysis and technical jargon, this highly accessible, interdisciplinary work will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists, as well as literary critics and scholars.