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Journal of Literary Semantics

An International Review

Founded by Eaton, Trevor

Ed. by Toolan, Michael

2 Issues per year

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Reading imaginatively: The imagination in cognitive science and cognitive literary studies

Emily T. Troscianko
  • St John's College, University of Oxford
  • :
Published Online: 2013-09-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jls-2013-0009


I argue that literary studies can contribute to the “imagery debate” (between pictorialist, propositionalist, and enactivist accounts of mental imagery). While imagery questionnaires are pictorially configured and conflate imagining and seeing with pictorial representation, literary texts can exploit language's capacity for indeterminacy and therefore elicit very different imaginative experiences, thus illuminating the non-pictorial qualities of mental imagery.

Keywords: Cognitive literary science; Enactivism; Imagery questionnaires; Kafka; Mental imagery; Pictorialism

Emily T. Troscianko

Emily T. Troscianko is Junior Research Fellow in Modern Languages (French and German) at St John's College, University of Oxford. She currently works on ‘cognitive realism’ in French and German ‘Realist’ and ‘Modernist’ prose fiction, aiming to illuminate from a cognitive perspective what it means for a literary text to be realistic. Recent articles include ‘The cognitive realism of memory in Flaubert's Madame Bovary’ (Modern Language Review, 2012) and ‘Cognitive realism and memory in Proust's madeleine episode’ (Memory Studies, 2013). The monograph Kafka's Cognitive Realism is forthcoming (2014) with Routledge.

Published Online: 2013-09-17

Published in Print: 2013-09-17

Citation Information: Journal of Literary Semantics. Volume 42, Issue 2, Pages 181–198, ISSN (Online) 1613-3838, ISSN (Print) 0341-7638, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jls-2013-0009, September 2013

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Emily T. Troscianko
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