Featured Minds: Henry Bernard

Henry is a recent graduate of UC Santa Barbara.  He specialized in Literature and the Mind in the English Department, and helped bring together fellow Mind-inclined students as an undergraduate representative for Lit and Mind.  He currently works at PathPoint as a Direct Support Professional, helping individuals with disadvantages and those with physical, developmental, or psychiatric disabilities reach their fullest potential.  Read on to learn more about his experience with Lit and Mind and its applicability to everyday life, and to see excerpts from “Feeling Attachments in Dickens’ Great Expectations.”  Congratulations, Henry!

How did you first get interested in studying literature and the mind?

At the end of my first year at UCSB, I took a class taught by Professor Kay Young called “Comic Turn of Mind.”  I feel as if my college education began there.  Never before had I been exposed to such meaningful material.  Throughout college, Literature and the Mind courses, mostly taught by Professor Young, inspired me to ask questions–to wonder and wander until I arrived at an understanding of my own passions and feelings.  My favorite class was Professor Young’s “The Meaning of Life,” in which we studied my favorite literary work, “Notes from Underground,” by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  Literature and the Mind provided a community in which I found genuine, deep people with interesting ideas.  Professor Young, as an extraordinary teacher and mentor, provided the sparks with which I would kindle my own fire of learning.

After a year of helping gather students to study the theme of “intersubjectivity,” what are your thoughts on this topic now?

Essential to our humanity is the search of meaning.  We must ask ourselves: why do I exist?  The meaning of our existence is fundamentally relational, for we come to know ourselves by coming to know others.  The self takes shape through interaction with the not-self.  Forms of otherness affect us, whether this be family, friends, strangers, enemies, authors, artists, lovers, lost ones.  The minds we meet in life define us, and intersubjectivity provides a path by which we can better understand our relational nature.  A life lived intentionally, with a deep, empathic awareness of the ways we affect one another, is a life rooted in humanity, connecting us to the essence of our existence.

Where do you think the study of literature in the mind is headed, or should be headed?

Hopefully Lit and the Mind continues to emphasize relationally, exploring the connections between self and other.  With this emphasis, Lit and Mind should stress the importance of empathy and imagination.  If taught to imagine the feelings of others, young minds will be encouraged to welcome difference.  I’d also like to see Lit and Mind think more about ambiguity and its effects on the mind.  Ideally, Lit and Mind will move people toward more meaningful lives, in which people feel connected to themselves, to the natural world, and to one another.

What would you like to tell current or prospective English Majors, or Literature and the Mind specialists, at UCSB?

Read as many books as possible.  Take a class with Professor Young.  Immerse yourself in nature.  Seek out meaningful moments and connections.  Don’t fear vulnerability.  Privilege passion and feeling above all else.

 

Excerpts from Henry’s paper “Feeling Attachments in Dickens’ Great Expectations,” composed for Kay Young’s course entitled Cognitive Dickens and drawing on sources ranging from Freud to contemporary studies of attachment and cognition:

Attachment informs cognition. In Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, different forms of attachment yield different ways of thinking. Pip’s realization of his secret benefactor fuels in him a newfound sense of agency and truthfulness in his interactions with Miss Havisham and Estella. Miss Havisham internalizes the loss of her lover, and her insecurities manifest in outward anger as Pip detaches from her. Estella is unfeeling toward Pip and removes herself from relationality, while Pip develops his sense of identity in relation to his feelings for Estella. Miss Havisham projects her loss upon Estella and Pip and feels her misery all over again when Estella and Pip reenact her trauma.

 

In “Chapter Forty-Four,” with the mystery of his benefactor known, Pip addresses himself to Miss Havisham and Estella with a newfound sense of identity. As soon as Miss Havisham and Estella see Pip, they see “an alteration” in him (380). Pip’s relation to others changes when he realizes his great expectations. His statement, “I have found out who my patron is,” immediately focuses the scene (381). All that proceeds his statement is the effect of his discovery on two of his deepest attachments. Pip’s language is direct and clear, reflecting clarity within his sense of self. Pip requests money from Miss Havisham on Herbert’s behalf, and he “reddened a little” in doing so (382-383). Now independent and no longer bound by the false assumption that Miss Havisham is his patron, Pip gains agency in interacting with Miss Havisham. He also reveals his attachment to Herbert and embodies the compassion he has for Herbert as he blushes. Pip grounds his expectations in truth rather than speculation and brings honesty to his attachments.

 

Pip is no longer dependent on Miss. Havisham, and she becomes defensive as he seeks the truth from her. As Pip brings up Mr. Jaggers, Miss Havisham responds in a “firm tone” (381). Miss Havisham’s tone betrays her sensitivity to the topic. Reprimanding Miss Havisham for leading him on, Pip asks, “Was that kind?” (381). Pip’s question challenges Miss Havisham’s character in a way previously impossible due to the mystery of his benefactor. With no ability to question his patron, Pip cannot exist as an individual apart from his patron. In inquiring information of Miss Havisham, Pip shifts the balance of power and illustrates the independence of his cognition. Miss Havisham’s reaction illustrates her guilt toward Pip. She cries, “Who am I?” and strikes her stick upon the floor, proceeding in wrath, “Who am I, for God’s sake, that I should be kind?” (381). She repeatedly questions her own identity, for her anger is concentrated inward. Her internal indignation stems from the traumatic separation from her loved one. As Freud observes, “The shadow of the object fell upon the ego” (course reader 72). Miss Havisham’s loss is a shadow darkening her ego, for her suffering confuses her ego. As Pip questions her identity, she becomes enraged, for her identity is uncertain and veiled by the past disappointment. Attempting to conceal her internal suffering, she lashes out at Pip. Her anger protects her ego from guilt, for she refuses to feel guilt for her contribution to Pip’s disillusionment. She wields a stick as her material object with which she can strike out at her environment. Feeling the endangerment of her ego, Miss Havisham attacks her environment in order to distance herself from others and how others make her feel. Miss Havisham does not allow herself to feel, for as Freud elucidates, her ego is complicated “due to ambivalence” (course reader 76). Her relationality is ambivalent, evidenced by her sudden outburst. Miss Havisham claims, “You made your own snares. I never made them” (382). Miss Havisham distinctly separates herself from Pip, as she emphasizes “I” in contrast to “you.” In opposing her actions to Pip’s actions, Miss Havisham seeks to remove responsibility from her own ego. However, the harder she tries to separate her feelings from Pip, the clearer her attachment to him becomes. Miss Havisham is defensive because Pip actively affects her ego. Her words are beyond her immediate control, as they “flashed out of her in a wild and sudden way” (382). Miss Havisham is attached to Pip, and his detachment from her elicits resistance and insecurities within her which manifest in outward anger. Pip’s detachment from Miss Havisham is possible because he no longer depends on her as his patron.

 

Congratulations 2016 Undergraduate Specialists!

img_4003This year, we celebrated the achievements of another graduating class of English majors at UCSB who specialized in Literature and the Mind.  Graduating seniors gathered with faculty and graduate students from English and Comparative Literature to share memories from their courses in the field, favorite texts and perspectives they encountered, and their plans for the final week of class and life after graduation (including applications to medical school and animation studios, finishing coursework abroad, and taking some well-deserved time off before pursuing graduate school).  We also celebrated three successful years of programming under Julie Carlson’s direction, gathering faculty and students from centers with whom she collaborated in the study of Improvisation (including the American Cultures in Global Contexts Center, Hemispheric South/s, the Early Modern Center and English Broadside Ballad Archive, and Transcriptions).

A hearty congratulations to the following seniors who earned the specialization by taking four or more courses taught or endorsed by Literature and Mind faculty: Suzanne Becker, Kore Busath-Haedt, Diane Byun, Jennifer Chang, Darrin Ching, Garrett Edwards, Tasha Harris, Andrea Hashimoto, Charles Langeland, Williams Leiva, Amanda Levya, Veronica Nakla, Tiffany Park, Jackie Parra, Imelda Perez, Michelle Plevack, Carlo de la Rosa, Aldair Serrano, Cecilia Sin, Alexia Stidham, Diana Valle, Nicole Villanueva, and Marisol Zarate.

 

 


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Undergraduate Course: Cognitive Dickens

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Instructor: Kay Young

Course: ENGL 170 CD

Time: Spring 2016, MW 1:00-2:15 PM

Charles Dickens is the great English novelist of identity “wounded by mystery.”   Dickens narrates the rupture of parent from child as a psychic drama in relation to which his particular realism, his novel of the orphan and of detective fiction, work in reflective embodiment.   In this course we’ll explore how Dickens’s response to the questions, “Who am I?” and “What are my origins?” and “To whom do I belong?” and “What is mine?” lead to new sounds in his psychologizing of the 19th-century English novel—in the lived narrative experience of being the orphan who asks those questions and in what forms of cognitive processing the narrative uses to answer them.   We’ll read David CopperfieldBleak House, and Great Expectations  in conjunction with works of attachment theory and cognitive science.

Image: “Charles Dickens’ Legacy to the World” (detail)

Undergraduate Course: Body Language

Instructor: Aranye Fradenburg
Course: English 170BL, Winter 2016

Darwin argued that when animals experience emotion, they are experiencing bodily events (the corners of the mouth twitch, blood pressure rises). Expression is emotional experience, not what signifies it. Influenced by Darwin, Freud was convinced that mind and body were in some way of a piece: psychological distress could affect the body and also be caused, in part at least, by the body’s troubles. Since Freud’s time, many researchers, clinicians and theorists have doubted, sometimes even ridiculed, the existence of psychosomatic and somatopsychic phenomena. But times have changed again, and we are more and more prepared to believe, at minimum, that bodily and psychical experience co-construct one another. This course will begin with a sampling of Darwin’s writing on the emotions; with Freud and Breuer’s remarks on abreaction and catharsis in Studies in Hysteria; and with a contemporary study of Hysteria by Christopher Bollas, psychoanalyst (and former English Ph.D.) interested in the idea of a body that prepares to speak, developmentally and otherwise. In this part of the course we will also consider some examples of literature on “lovesickness.” Next, we will consider the embodied character of delusional experience, through Daniel Paul Schreber’s Memories of My Nervous Illness and Freud’s commentary thereon; selections from the works of Deleuze and Guattari and Massumi on schizophrenia and expression; and essays from the anthology Psychosomatics Today: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, which will introduce us to very recent work on these topics. The last part of the course will draw from the work of Elaine Scarry (The Body in Pain), Giovanna Colombetti (The Feeling Body) and Andy Clark (Supersizing the Mind), all important proponents of “distributed”/“extended” mind. The mind may be embodied, but it’s also extended well beyond the body, by means, for example, of written texts. How might we want to conceive of literary experience accordingly?

Image: Still from Chaplin, “Modern Times”

Undergraduate Course: The Comic Turn of Mind

Still from "Some Like It Hot" (United Artists)

The art form that affirms survival, that makes happiness our business and hope not the gift of the lucky few but a turn of mind to be practiced and pursued is COMEDY. Comedy as a genre, comedy as a practice, comedy as a way of imagining will be the object and its frame of our study.
Primary texts by Aristophanes, Larry David, Billy Wilder, Menander, Shakespeare, Nichols and May.
Theory by: Aristotle, Eco, Freud, Bergson, Frye, and Young.

Image: Still from “Some Like It Hot” (United Artists)

Undergraduate Course: Memory: A Bridge Between Neuroscience and the Humanities

Salvador Dali, "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory," detail

Instructors: Dominique Julien (French and Comparative Literature) and Kenneth S. Kosik (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology)

Course: Comp Lit 27, Winter 2015

Few things are more important than memory in shaping and defining human personality. Memory is what makes us humans. Memory and personality are inseparable (conversely, loss of memory, in cases like Alzheimer’s disease, destroys the patient’s personality). In recent decades, memory has emerged as one specific area of investigation common to neuroscience and the humanities where these two radically different methods of understanding reality occasionally converge. We propose to explore some of the key issues raised by memory processes as cases where the gap between the humanities and
neuroscience can be bridged.

Since Antiquity, memory has been a subject of interest to writers and philosophers. In recent years, neuroscientific progress has appeared to lend anatomical and clinical support to the literary descriptions left by Plato or Proust: what science is discovering or verifying today often seems to have been intuited and described in literary form in the past. One example would be the ancient memory techniques based on loci (literally places in the mind; this elaborate memory training system is known to us through rhetorical treatises from Antiquity to the Renaissance), whose patterns appear to converge with recent neuroscientific studies of memorization processes known as localization of function. Another example would be the correlation between memory and the senses, made famous by Proust’s philosophical novel Remembrance of Things Past, which has also developed into a key area of neuroscientific investigation.

Image: Salvador Dali, “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory” (detail)

Undergraduate Course: History of the Mind

M0001845 John Haygarth. Line engraving by W. Cooke, 1827, after J. H.

Instructor: Aranye Fradenburg

Course: English 170, Spring 2015

By “a history of mind,” I mean a history of thinking about the mind. Is it embodied, inspired, dispersed? How do minds understand each other? How do they shape their environments, including their cultural environments, and how are they shaped by them in turn? To find out how good minds from the past explored these questions, we will read Aristotle’s De Anima (On the Soul) and Poetics; Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex; St. Augustine’s Confessions, Book X; Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy; Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding; Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy; Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia,” and selections from The Interpretation of Dreams; all interspersed with various poems and commentaries from different eras. This course will give you a foundation for thinking about more particular histories of mind on topics like creativity, love, play, and madness.

Image: Aristotle, detail from “De Anima”

Graduate Course: Affect Theory and Practice

Mamma Andersson, "Cry"

Instructor: Kay Young

Course: English 236, Fall 2014

How does literature feel? What creates its feelings states? What relation is there between literary feeling and human emotion?

Why is emotional understanding important—to our work as scholars, teachers, and humanists?

In this seminar, we’ll explore affect—its nature, meanings, presence, and significance to the study of the verbal arts—through neuroscience, contemporary psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literary theory.

Each seminar member will choose a literary work by any author, from any period, genre, nation about which s/he has strong feelings to read as an affect theory project at the seminar’s close.

We’ll bring selections from the “Affect/ Feeling/Emotion” section of the Literature and Mind Field List, as well as from:
Henry James’ *The Golden Bowl*, Joseph LeDoux’s *The Feeling Brain*, Antonio Damasio’s*The Feeling of What Happens*, Jaak Penksepp’s *Affective Neuroscience*, Alan Schore’s*Affect Regulation*, William James’ *The Principles of Psychology*, Donna Orange’s*Emotional Understanding*, Thomas Dixon’s *From Passion to Emotions*, essays David Miall and Don Kuiken, Martha Nussbaum’s *Love’s Knowledge* and/or *Upheavals of Thought*.

Image: Mamma Andersson, “Cry”

Graduate Course: Romantic Transport

Detail, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, "Psyche Transported to Heaven"

Instructor: Julie Carlson

Course: English 233, Winter 2015

How do we get from here to there and what does such movement signify?  What role does the aesthetic play in facilitating physical and mental movement, both desired and forced?   This seminar focuses on British and German Romantic-era texts that theorize and enact modes of embodied transport:  discourses regarding the sublime, imagination, metaphor, and the transporting capacities of art as well as texts depicting desired and forced transportation of bodies (slavery, emigration, urbanization, sexual experimentation). 

Most class sessions combine a Romantic-era theoretical text, a Romantic-era literary text, and a contemporary essay discussing a similar process in an effort to consider also how “romanticism” travels across times and places.  Readings include:  Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, P. B. Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, Anna Barbauld, England in Eighteen Hundred Eleven, William Blake, Visions of the Daughters of Albion,S. T. Coleridge, Christabel, Thomas Clarkson, On the Rise, Progress, and Abolition of the Slave Trade.  Contemporary readings include chapters from Doris Sommers, The Work of Art in the World, Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously, Robin Kelley, Freedom DreamsD. W. WinnicottPlay and Reality, Norman Holland, The Brain and Literature.

Sketch of a slave hold by Thomas Clarkson

Image 1: Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, “Psyche Transported to Heaven”

Image 2: Thomas Clarkson, “Description of a Slave Ship”

UNDERGRADUATE COURSE: Feeling, Place, Expression

Fish Blood Detail Instructor: Aranye Fradenburg

Course: English 197, Fall 2014

Until the post-World War II period, the interdependence of human psychology with our environments was, for the most part, unthought.  But the advent of nuclear power forced scientists and humanists alike to think more deliberately about this interdependence.  The publication of groundbreaking work on ecology and psychology in the 1970’s, during the First Wave of the contemporary environmental movement, led to what is now a rich interdisciplinary body of work on the subject.  This course will introduce you to that body of work, drawing on the work of philosophers (“ecosophy”), scientific psychologists, and psychoanalysts (“eco-psychoanalysis”) that now asks us, not just to understand better our “place” in the environment, but also to understand better the “place” of the environment within our selves.

Literature, of course, fictional or otherwise, has always understood the evocative power of these emplacements, from Homer’s fascination with the structure of the city of Troy to the lyrics of Siouxsie and the Banshee’s “Let’s Go to Pluto.” So we will be reading selections from Isenberg’s collection State of the Arts:  California Writers Talk About Their Work; Young’s collection The Literature of California:  Native American Beginnings to 1945; Cortez, On the Imperial Highway:  New and Selected Poems; Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles; and John McPhee, Assembling California. 

Critical/analytical inspirations will include selections from Geoffrey Bateman’s Steps To An Ecology of Mind; Dodd’s Psychoanalysis and Ecology at the Edge of Chaos; and Rust, Vital Signs: Psychological Responses to Ecological Crisis. 

Image: Gustav Klimt, “Fish Blood”