Neopoetics: The Evolution of the Literate Imagination

Hardcover | November 29, 2016

byChristopher Collins

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The quest to understand the evolution of the literary mind has become a fertile field of inquiry and speculation for scholars across literary studies and cognitive science. In Paleopoetics, Christopher Collins's acclaimed earlier title, he described how language emerged both as a communicative tool and as a means of fashioning other communicative tools-stories, songs, and rituals. In Neopoetics, Collins turns his attention to the cognitive evolution of the writing-ready brain. Further integrating neuroscience into the popular field of cognitive poetics, he adds empirical depth to our study of literary texts and verbal imagination and offers a whole new way to look at reading, writing, and creative expression. Collins begins Neopoetics with the early use of visual signs, first as reminders of narrative episodes and then as conventional symbols representing actual speech sounds. Next he examines the implications of written texts for the play of the auditory and visual imagination. To exemplify this long transition from oral to literate artistry, Collins examines a wide array of classical texts-from Homer and Hesiod to Plato and Aristotle and from the lyric innovations of Augustan Rome to the inner dialogues of St. Augustine. In this work of "big history," Collins demonstrates how biological and cultural evolution collaborated to shape both literature and the brain we use to read it.

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The quest to understand the evolution of the literary mind has become a fertile field of inquiry and speculation for scholars across literary studies and cognitive science. In Paleopoetics, Christopher Collins's acclaimed earlier title, he described how language emerged both as a communicative tool and as a means of fashioning other c...

Christopher Collins is professor emeritus of English at New York University. His many books include Paleopoetics: The Evolution of the Preliterate Imagination (Columbia, 2013); Authority Figures: Metaphors of Mastery from the Iliad to the Apocalypse (1996); The Poetics of the Mind's Eye: Literature and the Psychology of Imagination (1...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:344 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:November 29, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231176864

ISBN - 13:9780231176866

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Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgments1. Innovating Ourselves2. Narrative Memory3. The Dancing, Singing Daughters of Memory4. Visual Instruments of Memory5. Poets' Play and Plato's Poetics6. Writing for the Voice7. Writing and the Reading MindEpilogue: Poetics and the Making of the Modern SelfAppendix: Three Horatian TextsNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Collins breathes new life into the constructionist premise that language shapes how humans think. Using the literary traditions of ancient Greece and Rome to examine the constraints that oral and written media, respectively, impose on narrative representation, Neopoetics suggests new ways of thinking about the cognitive mechanisms that shape cultural transmission.