“Racism and the Crisis in the Science of Mind” with Dr. Christopher Chamberlin

Please email lit-and-mind@english.ucsb.edu for reading materials.


Christopher Chamberlin holds the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in English at UC Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in Culture and Theory at UC Irvine in 2018, with emphases in feminist studies and critical theory. He has written work published or forthcoming in Studies in Gender and Sexuality,DiscourseJournal of Medical Humanities, and Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, and serves on the editorial boards of both the journal in Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society and the European Journal of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Chamberlin is currently completing his first book project, which examines how Freudian practitioners interpreted the clinical phenomena of antiblack racism during the Civil Rights Era.

How Hardwired Are We?: Investigating Primary Emotion

Like primary colors in visual art, long has there been debate on whether human beings can identify primary emotions: happy, sad, angry – can our entire emotional range, as nuanced as it is, possibly be represented in various combinations of our feelings’ simplest base components? 

But what is an emotion? How many primary emotions are there? How do we decide what they are, if there are any? The goal of this reading group is to enter the debate on primary (or “basic”) emotion by reviewing a selection of readings from the most recent revision of the Lit and Mind reading list:

  • Colombetti, Giovanna. “The Emotions: Existing Accounts and Their Problems.” The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind, pp. 25 – 52. MIT Press, 2013. 
  • Damasio, Antonio. “Emotions and Feelings.” Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, pp. 127 – 162. Penguin Books, 1994.
  • Panksepp, Jaak. “Emotional Operating Systems and Subjectivity” and “The Varieties of Emotional Systems in the Brain.” Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions, pp. 24 – 58. Oxford, 1998.

Reading notes: Emphasis will be on the Colombetti reading, which is shorter and much easier to read than the others. For the Damasio, pages 1-7 in the PDF are necessary for background information, but the whole chapter is useful. Figures can be disregarded. For the Panksepp, pages 24-28 and 41-55 are most central to the debate. Figures and study details about non-human organisms can be disregarded. There’s also a selection of pages 302-305 from the last chapter that might be interesting for folks. Please email lit-and-mind@english.ucsb.edu for the selected readings.

Fall 2019 Reading Group Series: Thinking About Research Justice

Please join us for our November Literature and Mind reading group led by Aili Pettersson Peeker with Visiting Assistant Professor Amrah Salomon and Professor Candace Waid on November 20th at 5pm in the Sankey room (SH 2623). All faculty, postdocs, grads, and undergrads are warmly invited to attend.

As the second meeting of this year’s grad student-led reading group series, this event seeks to foster further conversation among the intersections between Literature and Mind and the American Cultures and Global Contexts Center. Please email english-litandmind@ucsb.edu for the selected readings.

Amrah Salomon, “Telling to reclaim, not to sell: Resistance narratives and the marketing of justice”

Marie-Laure Ryan, “Narratology and Cognitive Science: A Problematic Relation” 

“This reading group will be joined by Visiting Assistant Professor Amrah Salomon (English Department, Indigenous Studies Specialization) and Professor Candace Waid (English Department) as an opportunity for exploring how the interests of Literature and Mind and the American Cultures and Global Contexts Center might merge. We will read one of Professor Salomon’s articles, “Telling to reclaim, not to sell: Resistance narratives and the marketing of justice,” together with Marie-Laure Ryan’s “Narratology and Cognitive Science: A Problematic Relation” (both short ones). Professor Salomon works on Native American Literature, Native Feminisms, and Native American Environmental and Social Justice, among other topics, and this article focuses on Indigenous and traditional storytelling as it critiques story-based practices used by social justice activists today. Ryan’s article introduces cognitive literary studies and raises questions about interdisciplinary collaboration and how to study the nexus of narrative and mind. Together, I hope these articles serve as a starting point for a joint exploration of where cognitive approaches to storytelling and memory merge with other disciplines and agendas as well as where they fail to do so, and for a discussion of research justice and the connection (or lack thereof) between the academy and the communities around it.” —Aili Pettersson Peeke, UCSB English Department

Fall Welcome Reception

Come join us for our Literature and Mind fall welcome reception in the Sankey room (SH 2623) on Wednesday, October 9th, at 5pm! Come enjoy a lovely evening connecting with your fellow minds over tasty refreshments as we enter into the new academic year. All faculty, postdocs, grads, and undergrads are very welcome to attend! If you have any questions, please feel free to email lit-and-mind@english.ucsb.edu.

Story and the Brain Undergraduate Discussion Group

Next Meeting: October 30, 2019, at 6-7:45pm, South Hall 2623 (Sankey Room)

October 30 – This meeting will be led by Thomas Nedungadan and we will read Iris Murdoch’s short essay (only six pages) “Against Dryness” to continue our conversation about the potential of literature and its relationship to empathy and action in the world. Food and refreshments will be provided and everyone is welcome!

December 4 – This meeting will be led by Melody Sobhani and aims to situate our discussion of empathy in a global context by reading short stories by William Faulkner and Haruki Murakami and engaging with the work of the auteur Chang-dong Lee. Readings and more information will be sent out closer to the date.

About Story and the Brain

The advent of neuroscience and artificial intelligence is reshaping our world today, creating a dramatic shift in how we think about what it means to be human. At this critical juncture, it is vital that humanists participate in the development of a shared intellectual enterprise to ensure that scientific developments take place in the context of human values. But much of the ‘cognitive revolution’ still has to make its full impact on the typical student. The Story and the Brain Undergraduate Discussion Group sets out to provide a space for humanists with little or no knowledge of modern neuroscience to acquire an informed account of the model of the mind emerging from accelerating technological and scientific advances. That literature has something significant to offer to the neurobiological and computer sciences on the most subtle aspects of social perception, memory, emotion and cognition will be the focus of the meetings. The group will meet monthly and decide on readings together. All are very welcome and no prior knowledge is needed. Undergraduates are especially welcome.

Organizers: Sowon Park and Aili Pettersson Peeker

Contact: unconsciousmemory@english.ucsb.edu or apetterssonpeeker@ucsb.edu

Readings for Oct. 2nd meeting: Blakey Vermeule’s article “The New Unconscious: A Literary Guided Tour” from The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Literary Studies (2015) and Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif” (1983).”

Unthought Reading Group

On March 4th, 2019 from 5-8pm in South Hall 2714, Literature and the Mind will be hosting a reading group meeting on N. Katherine Hayles’ Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious. PDF download includes the chapters listed below that we will be discussing at the meeting.

Prologue: “Transforming How We See the World”

Chapter One: “Nonconscious Cognitions: Humans and Others”

Chapter Eight: “The Utopian Potential of Cognitive Assemblages”

Lit & Mind Conference: Intersubjectivity and Literature

Intersubjectivity & Literature


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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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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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.