Apr 26 2013
Letter to Editors of The New York Times in Response Article “Can ‘Neuro Lit Crit’ Save the Humanities?”
To the Editors,
The experts who responded on your blog site to the question of whether neuroscience and cognitive science will “energize literature departments, and, more broadly, generate excitement for the humanities” generally talk about the ways in which “neuro lit” is or is not the “Next Big Thing” to hit the world of literature. They seem to explain scientific research as outside the realm of literature. But who says that was ever the case?
We can all find an article of scientific research in a haystack of novels. And we all know the difference between the English and neuroscience departments in universities. But who is to say that science and literature are fundamentally different academic disciplines? The term literature, in my view, includes any text. The main distinction between a scientific article and a short story is not so much the words on the page but the way we understand those words–the way we read those words.
Siri Hustvedt has been criticized for blurring the lines between fact–which is a presupposition in itself–and fiction in her own memoir, The Shaking Woman. But maybe she was on to something.
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