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Elaine Auyoung, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Dept. of English
The astonishing sophistication of recent advancements in artificial intelligence lends fresh urgency to a longstanding challenge for literary studies, which is to specify the nature and value of what students learn in the literature classroom. This talk draws on psychological research on expertise and perceptual learning to demystify how literary study can structure students' attention, preparing them to perceive, interpret, and experience the world in increasingly discriminating and flexible ways. This cross-disciplinary perspective deepens our understanding of why traditional approaches to educational assessment fail to capture the value of humanistic knowledge, how instructors can be more intentional about reducing barriers to learning in the literature classroom, and why literature is worthy of attention in the first place.
Elaine Auyoung's multidisciplinary interests include nineteenth-century British literature and culture, the experience of reading, psychological approaches to the arts, feminist epistemology, and learning in the humanities. Her scholarship seeks to recover forms of knowledge and experience that disciplinary norms and institutional structures systematically exclude or discount.
She is the author of When Fiction Feels Real: Representation and the Reading Mind, which draws on psychological research on reading and cognition to explore the relationship between novelistic technique and literary experience. This book accounts for how writers such as Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy bring readers into intimate relation with fictional characters and worlds by engaging their embodied knowledge and their readiness to form social impressions. In chapters on Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy, Auyoung argues that realist aesthetics is also distinguished by readers' mediated, one-sided relation to objects, experiences, and characters that are never within reach.
Free and open to the public.
Comparative Literature Program
Department of Spanish & Portuguese
The Leslie Center for the Humanities
Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.