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UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center continues its year-long focus on the humanities and the brain in a conference entitled “The Humanities, The Neurosciences, and the Brain.” This conference, held on UCSB’s campus from May 12-13, features Gabrielle Starr as the keynote speaker, and includes presentations by graduate students affiliated with Literature and the Mind.
From the IHC description: “This interdisciplinary conference will exploring the multiple accords, and discords, that characterize humanistic and neuroscientific approaches to the study of the brain…. Participants will explore creative framings of neuroscientific inquiry through humanistic perspectives, as well as artistic explorations of inner states and mental landscapes.”
The conference is free and open to the public. You can find more information, including information about registering to attend, here.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
9:00 AM coffee and pastries
9:15 AM Welcome: Susan Derwin, Director, IHC
9:30 AM Panel 1: Sight and Sound
Katie Adkison, English, UCSB, “Speaking What We Feel: The Sense of Speech in King Lear”
Chip Badley, English, UCSB, “’If not in the Word, in the Sound’: Sound, Affect, Frederick Douglass”
Cole Cohen, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UCSB, “Merleau-Ponty and Me: The Phenomenology of Neurodiversity”
10:30 AM break
10:45 AM Sight and Sound continued
Phillip Grayson, Literature, St. John’s University, “At The Edge of Evening, Often Forever: Extramission, Consciousness, Literature”
Ery Shin, English, Eureka College, “Imaging the Mind in Literary Contexts”
12:00 PM lunch
12:45 PM Panel 2: Sociality, Intersubjectivity, Empathy
Corinne Bancroft, English, UCSB, “The Face of Friendship in Louise Erdrich’s Fiction”
Ksenia Federova, Cultural Studies, UC Davis, “Identity Transactions and Interpersonal Dynamics in Art and Science”
Cheryl Jaworski, English, UCSB, “The Embodied Mind and ‘the Demon of Domesticity’ in Dickens’s Dombey and Son”
2:15 PM break
2:30 PM Panel 3: Theories of Mind, Machines and Mechanical Metaphors
Hannes Bend, Quantum Physics Aleman Lab and Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon, “Metaverses/Myndful”
Jennifer Duggan, English, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, “The Victorians and the Mechanical Brain”
Melissa M. Littlefield, English and Kinesiology & Community Health, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “Public Displays of Arousal: EEG Wearables and the Fashioning of Instrumental Intimacy”
4:00 PM break
4:15 PM Panel 4: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Historical Influences
Louis Caron, History and Religious Studies, UCSB, “Some Observations on the History of Neuroscience, and on Thomas Willis, the First Neurologist”
Jap-Nanak Makkar, English, University of Virginia, “Libet’s Missing ½ Second, Digital Technology, and Political Critique”
Robert Samuels, Writing Program, UCSB, “Damasio’s Error: The Humanities Between Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience”
5:45 PM reception
Friday, May 13, 2016
8:30 AM coffee and pastries
8:45 AM Welcome
9:00 AM Panel 5: Altered States
Elliott D. Ihm, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UCSB, “Neurocognitive Foundations of Self-Transcendent Experiences: A Speculative Predictive Coding Account”
Brianna K. Morseth, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UCSB, “To Forget the Self: Religious, Cultural, and Neuroscientific Dimensions of Ego Death through Contemplative Practice”
D.C. McGuire, Neuroscience Researcher, “Neuroscience Offers Humanity’s Second Chance”
10:30 AM break
10:45 AM Keynote: Gabrielle Starr, English, New York University, author of Feeling Beauty
“Pleasure and Form: Chasing Imagination”
12:15 PM lunch
1:00 PM Panel 6: Memory and the Creation of Consciousness
Jacob Burg, English, Brandeis University, “Reading Forgetful Minds: The Social Brain in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant”
Wallace Chafe, Linguistics, UCSB, “Immediate versus Displaced Thinking”
Rebecca Chenoweth, English, UCSB, “Remembering ‘The Best of England’ from the Periphery of War in The Remains of the Day”
Sara Pankenier Weld, Germanic & Slavic Studies, UCSB, “The Birth of Consciousness: Andrei Bely’s Modernist Pseudo-Autobiography”
3:00 PM Closing remarks
Image: Rene Descartes, illustration of mind/body dualism from “Meditations on First Philosophy” (duplicated)
On October 12, Literature and the Mind gathered with affiliated programs on campus for an introduction to the new year and to share information about our mind-related projects. We had a fantastic turnout, with undergraduates, grad students, faculty, and post-doctoral researchers from a variety of departments and initiatives (including English, Comparative Literature, and Psychology). Below, you’ll find pictures of our attendees, as well as more information about the programs that we heard about across campus.
Julie (pictured above left) led us through the L&M Initiative’s plans for the upcoming year, as we undertake two endeavors: continuing to study our biennial theme of “Improvisation,” searching for a new English Department faculty member who specializes in cognitive science, and engaging with the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center’s study of “The Humanities and the Brain.” We will have more word on both of these events throughout the year, so stay tuned!
We heard from Dr. Bridget Queenan, Associate Director of the Brain Initiative at UCSB (pictured above right). This initiative, under the direction of Dr. Ken Kosick, will “assemble & support research teams to attack the most fundamental problems in neuroscience. Providing intellectual, technical, and financial resources, [they] are changing how academic research is done.” Dr. Queenan was especially excited to discuss this project and the brain with scholars in literature and the humanities at large, and to bring these disciplines that have studied the mind and brain into deeper conversation. Learn more about the work and scholars behind this project here.
Claire Zedelius (pictured above left) spoke with us about the UCSB Daydream Project, an initiative housed in Dr. Jonathan Schooler’s Memory Emotion Thought Awareness, or META, Lab (website here). The project’s description notes, “We spend about half our waking lives daydreaming. This research project is investigating how different styles of daydreaming influence creativity.” Learn more about the Daydreaming project, and how you can participate in the data-gathering stage of their project, on the group’s Facebook page here.
Thanks to all of our attendees for helping us to kick off a dynamic year!
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As Spring quarter wrapped up this year, students graduating with a specialization in Literature and the Mind gathered with affiliated faculty and graduate students of English and Comparative Literature. Each of these students took at least four courses affiliated with the study of mind, brain, and literature, or worked on an independent project related to our areas of interest. Their specialization will be listed on their diplomas, fulfilling our department’s mission to give students multidisciplinary approaches and upper-division focus. We are very proud of all our students’ accomplishments, and look forward to celebrating a new cohort of students in the coming year!
This year, we would like to congratulate the following specialists: Antigone Bowden, Nadya Bravo, Julian Bustos, Ashlyn Cornes, Jasmin Diaz, Lizbet Flores, Cassandra Gonzalez, Jessica Hyde, Giselle Jaude, Ian Jones, Celine Khoury, Victoria Koenitzer, Jessica Mendez, Alexandra Nicholson, Natalie O’Brien, Emily Ogle, Liana Scarsella, Alexandra Splan, Andrea Vallone, and Aimee Wong.
Below, you will find some photos from our gathering, as well as thoughts from undergraduates on the specialization and its impact on their lives on- and off-campus. If you recently graduated with a Lit and Mind specialization, and would like to add your own thoughts or tell us what you’re up to now, please email Rebecca Chenoweth here. If you’re interested in learning more about this specialization, and currently-offered courses that will help you to earn it, see our site’s description of the Undergraduate Specialization.
Thoughts on Literature and the Mind from Ian Jones:
“I was in the Literature and Mind specialization for both of my years at UCSB (as a transfer, I only had two). I began the specialization thinking it could be, at least for me, a happy marriage of literature and philosophy, and it was, at least in part. Lit & Mind is interested in psychology and neuroscience in relation to literature more than it is in metaphysics, but there’s room in the specialization for all that and more. Through my courses in the specialization I developed an interest in relationships and other minds. The problem of other minds is exactly that: a problem. We are separated, as people, in some ways immutably. Literature, like psychology and philosophy, grapples with this. The specialization was, for me, a place to explore the space between people and the ways we try to connect to one another, and why it matters that we do so at all. The specialization is much bigger than that, but it is a vital piece that I carry forward.”
Pictures of the group:
Celine Khoury and Stephanie Lambert