Ronald J. Ganze
James J. Paxson
A Note About Workshop Format
The idea of this workshop is to generate as much spontaneous discussion as possible. With that end in view, we're asking everyone to condense their material into a 5-7 minute presentation. This is very short, we know, so our advice is to go for the sharp angle, the big picture, or the potential further research questions attendant upon your current research. Please try to read all the discussion papers at least for your session in advance. We're hoping this is the best way to make use of the diverse expertise available.
Topic: Knowing Nature: Allegory and Its Opposites in 17th-century Aesop's Fables
My main area of research is in visual rhetoric of the early modern period, with emphasis on English-language printed texts and images. My approach is normally some combination of rhetorical and historical, in unequal measures usually tipped towards the historical. One of the topics I have been working on is the illustration of natural histories, especially zoological works. I have charted the migration of illustrations in early zoological texts into other natural histories, into decorative arts, and into popular culture, and considered the meanings that are generated by these migrations. Recently I have done some work on the illustrations by Francis Barlow for his 1665 publication of Aesop's Fables, which draw on the conventions of illustrations of animals in zoological texts.
The questions that I would like to consider in the workshop arise first from the juxtaposition of these images, which are non-allegorical, with the verses, which are deliberately and conventionally allegorical. How do readers know to switch from allegorical methods of understanding, to something else? And what is that something else? Barlow is trying to represent nature as he understands it. What is that, and how is it known outside the allegorical tradition, and beside the empirical values of science? What relationship does this mode of reading have to the real life of animals in the economy and therefore in culture, which is anti-allegorical? In the example I have focused on, "The Hunted Beaver," for instance, the animal depicted is not an animal at all to the European audience, but rather a beaver hat in unprocessed form.
Further questions are generated by consideration of the history of Aesopic illustration and its relationship to allegory, and of the other genres of illustration on which Barlow drew for his compositions and their relationship to allegory. The illustrated bestiary, from which the story of the beaver in Aesopic collections was absorbed, depicts a very allegorical beaver - so much so that the creature is unrecognizable as a beaver - suitable to the tale the image accompanies. Barlow rejects this illustrative tradition, and his scenes draw on two other genres of illustration, both much more modern, and both non-allegorical: first, the natural history illustration, which shows animals as creatures mainly defined by their difference from other creatures, and second, landscape painting, which relies on the non-allegorical principles of optical science to produce its illusions. Barlow's illustrations for his Aesop's Fables are therefore richly over-determined in their generic references and modal qualities: but to what end, or rather, what consequence? How do we know nature from these pictures, and what is the nature that we know?
The broader question I am asking is how a non-allegorical image of nature can produced, and how it can be understood. I consider this question - how nature is conceived at the end of the age of analogy, at the beginning of the era of mercantile capitalism and European empire, when dissection is the method of knowledge in the natural sciences, and when property is the civil name for the spaces formerly known as nature - to be one of the most important questions humanists can ask in the here and now, in line with other questions that deal with the origins of present dilemmas, crises, and cruxes of humanistic thought. To put it another way: we must know nature, before it disappears, or we disappear with it. Can we know it other than allegorically? If so, how?
I am only superficially familiar with theories of cognitive poetics. I began my reading (such as it is) in that field with the question, how could allegory (which is so highly conventional and so firmly tied to predominant world-views) be cognitive, rather than social and intertextual in origin? I concluded my survey in rather the opposite frame of mind: if all thought and language are analogical, and the mind bends to the tasks that allegory sets just as the sunflower seeks the sun, then what image of nature is possible that is not mediated by allegory? It is my view that Barlow's illustrations can be seen to reveal to us a strangely dilated moment in which it might have been possible to imagine a nature that afforded us no surplus in economic, ontological, or even theological terms. I also am convinced that this moment passed us by before it even happened, an example of one of the many deep ironies of the preposterous structure of our enlightenment epistemology: we never know in time, in more ways that one. Is this all true? Is a non-allegorical representation of nature qua nature impossible, except as a form of deep, melancholic, nostalgic fantasy? Over to you, teammates.
For images and further discussion: http://artsonline.uwaterloo.ca/koa/node/19
Topic: The Reading Heart from Reginald Pecock to Thomas Elyot
Negative reaction to the English writings produced by Bishop Reginald Pecock during his tumultuous career discloses a discursive revelation of heart-imprinted words; Thomas Elyot's career reveals the increasing secular success of royalty's reach into a subject's heart. Reading these two figures' English advice manuals throws into sharp relief the materiality, rather than evanescence, of word and spirit as conceived in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Pecock, like Elyot, clearly favored the expository over the hortatory, the read over the preached. Pecock's activities as master of Whittington College, a London foundation, and in association with John Colop, included providing religious books for lay readers. But his books included practical advice as well, including what we would consider medical advice. He ran afoul of regnal power because, as Viscount Beaumont tells King Henry, his "diuerse conclusyons labored and subtilly entended to be enprented in mennes hertis, by pryvy, by also vnherd, meenes." The heart is, of course, the material seat of understanding and was not infrequently, in learned circles, figured as a book. The Viscount lauds the king's heart and, in another figuration of the materiality of emotion, asks that "the pepull fele" Henry's "grete desir." Beaumont's words "pryvy" and "unherd" clue us into the real disruption Pecock's work foregrounds: vernacular, lay reading's materially-effective power.
Unlike the rhetorically-hortatory sermon, with its hope for a visible sign of an audience's emotive reaction to the preacher's gestures and words, reading, in the hands of the laity -- a people of "fraille disposicion" -- can be, unlike sermons, "privy," secret, "unherd," in this new era of silent reading. Materially-effective vernacular reading may print the heart, but it lacks the visible signs of either community assent or emotive response. Pecock's reading program activates a fear of invisible sedition. Viscount Beaumont figures a combat between "hearts," as it were: the heart of the reader -- invisible and silent -- and the heart of the king -- puissant and ready to make his people "feel." Unlike the visible sacrament, the Church's weapon of all-encompassing materiality, the king's power resides in force of arms and discipline. Vernacular reading, because it disrupts patterns of materiality dependent on Galenic systems themselves tied to Aristotelian rhetoric, threatens not only the trope of visibility on which piety depends, but the political subjectivity on which royal power depends.
Reconfigurations of the material power of words and reading to translate the great desire in a king's or queen's heart will occupy the English throne well into the sixteenth century. In his works, Thomas Elyot lauds Henry VIII's ability to see into his subjects' hearts, and accords a power to Henry's eyes and heart that inspires his subjects. Like Pecock, Elyot treats the practical in his works. Yet that practical has now been identified with the vernacular as the vernacular is itself praised as embodying the practical. The English heart - and its allegorical and material valencies -- has been reinterpreted as seat of vernacular, national subjectivity.
Session: Cognitive Maps
Topic: The Allegorical Construction of Ideology
Ideological belief systems assume their status as natural common sense for groups of minds by reification, which Georg Lukács defines as the abstraction of relationships and processes into ideological objects of thought, and which is one of the most common operations of allegory. Conceptual blending offers a model of this process in allegory that is particularly revealing, and I claim that such a model extrapolates well to ideological systems generally. Allegory, that is, with its walking and talking reifications, provides an excellent testing ground for ideological belief formation and maintenance, and the lessons conceptual blending can teach us about the cognitive dimensions of allegory can teach us more broadly about the cognitive construction of ideology. Ideological beliefs are reified through abductive inference, where observation and interpretation blend with attitudes and values to form mentally objective abstractions out of subjective processes and relationships. The resultant reified beliefs chain into ideological belief systems to form the basis of ideological thought. I believe allegory reifies thought while at the same time dereifing ideological beliefs. Fauconnier and Turner's conceptual blending theory (2002) and Teun van Dijk's theory of context models (2008) model the dereifying effect of allegory on ideological mental spaces and in so doing form new mental spaces of ideological belief.
Allegory achieves dereification of ideological belief systems by forming blended mental spaces that weaken the reified nature of ideological belief spaces. Allegorically blended mental spaces result in a mental foregrounding of ideological spaces through what Mark Turner refers to as a waking up the generic space (1996). The generic mental space contains elements that the input spaces of an allegory have in common and is itself a blend of other mental spaces including ideological belief systems. I believe generic spaces to be platforms that hold a wide range of mental space categories from beliefs of truth and fact to opinions, values, and attitudes. Generic platforms create what van Dijk refers to as a context model or the group of blended mental spaces that serve as interface between discourse and conceptual integration.
Allegorical blends shift the generic platform by disrupting categories of belief. Beliefs of truth subsumed by ideology may be revealed to be opinion. Allegory does not disprove or reject ideological beliefs; derification may reaffirm or disavow depending on the individual and the context model constructed. Dereified belief spaces immediately reify back into concrete abstractions that form new ideological spaces as the chain of blending continues. It is in the instant when reified beliefs lose objectivity that allegory has its cognitively rhetorical effect on the construction of ideology.
Topic: Coleridge and Blake on Allegory
In Reinventing Allegory, Theresa M. Kelley observes that post-medieval writers who denigrate allegory tend to do so in an allegorical fashion. Coleridge and Blake provide illuminating examples. For Blake, "Fable or Allegory is Formd by the Daughters of Memory" and for Coleridge, allegories are "less beautiful but not less shadowy than the sloping orchard or hillside pasture-field seen in the transparent lake below. Alas! for the flocks that are to be led forth to such pastures!" These are not simply attempts to dramatize the figure's lameness; they also allegorize its more highly valued counterpart. For Blake, "Imagination is Surrounded by the daughters of Inspiration who in the aggregate are calld Jerusalem", while Coleridge cries, "O! that we would draw at the well at which the flocks of our forefathers had living water drawn for them, even that water which, instead of mocking the thirst of him to whom it is given, becomes a well within himself springing up to life everlasting!"
Does allegory, as other-speaking, involve a basic disjunction which symbol does not? Is referring to a thing through something closely associated an example of lateral connection or substitution (as metonymy), or of organic unity (as synecdoche, which Lakoff and Johnson among others consider a subset of metonymy)? Coleridge's and Blake's language suggests continuity, all the while describing allegory as a figure of difference. I think this is largely because both writers posit two different kinds of cognition. For Coleridge, in allegory, "the difference is everywhere presented to the eye or imagination while the likeness is suggested to the mind", while Blake asserts, "Allegory addressd to the Intellectual powers while it is altogether hidden from the Corporeal Understanding is My Definition of the Most Sublime Poetry".
Coleridge's famous binary opposition of allegory and symbol is counter-intuitive. Rather than making the abstract tangible, "an allegory is but a translation of abstract notions into a picture-language which is itself nothing but an abstraction from objects of the senses; the principal being more worthless even than its phantom proxy, both alike unsubstantial, and the former shapeless to boot". Wouldn't picture-language be the ultimate motivated language, since it actually has a correspondence with what it represents? Coleridge's language of phantoms reverses the relationship between soul and body: all "objects of the senses" are ghosts. A symbol, on the other hand, "is characterized by a translucence of the special in the individual... or of the universal in the temporal. It always partakes of the reality which it renders intelligible; and... abides itself as a living part in that unity of which it is the representative". Coleridge insists on synecdoche; seeing the whole through a part is an attempt to do away with disjunction. But "Translucence" is not immediately associated with living unities (except jellyfish perhaps); it seems abstract and ghostly (if substantial, how could it be seen through?) He idealizes "a system of symbols, harmonious in themselves, and consubstantial with the truths of which they are the conductors". How can a conductor be "consubstantial" with what it conducts? Electrical wires are made of wire, not electricity. His very vocabulary illustrates that this kind of synecdoche is not possible in the material world as ruled by Newtonian physics.
Blake creates allegorical figures free of limitations such as the law of gravity, but depicts them as substantial to reflect their more vivid spiritual reality. He says, about his designs for Robert Blair's The Grave, "He who does not imagine in stronger and better lineaments... than his perishing and mortal eye can see, does not imagine at all". In an antagonistic review, Blake's contemporary Robert Hunt seems to deny the possibility of allegory altogether by insisting that "the visible can never shadow out the invisible world". But what Hunt praises, in contrast, as effectively naturalistic is itself an allegorical figure, the mortal aspect of a universal type: the dying body of the Strong Wicked Man.
The relationship between the soul and the body is an allegory of the function of allegory. If allegory is to bridge the material and spiritual without disjunction or delusion, the body must be, as Blake suggests in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, "a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses". Rather than metonymy -- the body merely associated with the soul, like a detachable appendage, as a crown for a king -- this would be synecdoche akin to Coleridge's mystical ideal in which the part is "consubstantial" with the whole, a spiritual body.
Topic: Spenserian Allegory and Scientific Analogy
I recently wrote an essay on the episode of the weighing Giant in book 5 of Spenser's Faerie Queene. In that essay, I argued that the Giant's use of scales to re-weigh the elemental components of the world was influenced by John Dee's preface to Euclid's Elements and that Spenser's poem as a whole was more affected by new developments in astronomy, mathematics, and natural philosophy than scholars have previously acknowledged. However, in the course of writing that essay I ran into difficulties working out the relationships among allegory, metaphor, and scientific analogy.
I'm interested in the epistemological implications of the gradual breakdown of the Aristotelian worldview that happened (in England at least) toward the end of the 16th century. I believe that changing ideas about the nature of comparison and commensurability were an important part of those epistemological changes. The Aristotelian approach to the universe was based on an assumption that everyday unaided human sense perception gave accurate access to the truth about causal phenomena in nature. The Aristotelian theory of matter assumed that the qualia of the four elements (hot, cold, wet, dry, dense, rare) provided direct access to their essential nature. Phenomena that didn't reveal their essential nature in a straightforward way were considered "wonders" or "marvels" of nature, subtended by occult processes. Experimentation was not a valid way to gain access to truths about nature because the experiment altered the normal course of nature and therefore couldn't reveal anything essential about it.
As discoveries in astronomy, physics, and other fields began to erode this Aristotelian consensus but before it was replaced by the mechanistic atomism of the 17th century, there was a period when a gap opened up between ordinary experience of nature and new ideas about truths that lay behind its surface. In order to bridge this gap, analogy and other means of comparison became more important. Historians of science like Katherine Park and Lorraine Daston have traced the careful and reluctant use of analogy by figures like Galileo. Dedre Gentner and Michael Jeziorski (1993) have argued that the new science of the seventeenth century saw a shift from the use of metaphor to a more focused and constrained kind of scientific analogy. For Gentner, alchemical writers, still inhabiting an Aristotelian universe, rely on metaphors to express the similarities and correspondences that structure the universe. These metaphors are based on similarity of attributes. A scientist like Boyle, on the other hand, uses scientific analogy in a more modern sense to express common relational structures. I have argued elsewhere that "metaphysical conceits" like John Donne's "stiff twin compasses" represent a poetic use of analogy in this new sense.
Spenserian allegory seems to me to be bound up with these changes in an important way. Spenser seems to intend to use a kind of naďve or simple allegory to bind together surface appearance and meaning, just as Aristotelian confidence in their coincidence was waning. On the other hand, his allegory repeatedly reveals the impossibility of reading or interpreting it with accuracy, as surfaces are shown again and again to be deceptive. And in an episode like that of the Giant, he seems to entertain and reject a newer "scientific" use of analogy. A lot of questions remain. How does poetic use of allegory or metaphor intersect (or not) with the kinds of comparisons used in natural philosophical or scientific writing? How do new ideas about commensurability impact comparison? If analogy is an important component of scientific paradigm change, do poetic comparisons participate in this shift? If so, how? Are cognitive concepts useful in defining and differentiating such problematic terms as metaphor, analogy, allegory, etc.?
Session: Cognitive Maps
Topic: Cognitive Modelling and Historical Interpretation
There is a well established tradition of critical interpretation, dating back to Coleridge, claiming that The Pilgrim's Progress is more a novel than an allegory. This view amounts to saying that the last major allegory in English already evidences the decline of the genre and adumbrates the imminent emergence of the novel. I want to use a cognitive model of allegory I have developed to help assess this historical claim.
The model takes off from the idea that, although allegory necessarily involves a source-to-target mapping of the kind traditionally associated with metaphor, its language is in the first instance literal. That language is used to enable the reader to construct a fictional situation, or text world, or possible situation, which itself then in turn functions as the allegorical source. Any metaphorical or other figurative language the allegory may contain will, at least in the first instance, have the allegory's text world as its target, not the allegorical target proper. That is to say, the allegory's text world is both allegorical source and linguistic target. This cognitive model does not assume that blending is automatically involved in all instances of allegory. Much of the time, a simple source-to-target mapping is all that is needed to account for the underlying conceptual structure of allegory. At moments of especial intensity however there may well be evidence of blending. When this happens this does not mean that the text world is to be understood as a blended space. Rather a blended space has been set up which provides input to both the allegory's source, or text world, and its target. (Blended spaces, and mental spaces generally, should never be confused with text worlds, or fictional situations, or possible situations). The basic picture then is of a source-to-target mapping, with the allegory's text world functioning as source, enriched at moments of particular intensity with input from blended spaces.
Those who, from Coleridge to contemporary critics such as Nellist and Damrosch, have argued that The Pilgrim's Progress is more a novel than an allegory have seen its claimed novelistic elements as stemming from Bunyan's intense individualism, the individualism of a radical Protestant. This, they have argued, led Bunyan to people his fictional world with individual characters rather than general types or personifications and so to produce something more like a novel than an allegory. The cognitive model of allegory I have outlined will be used to argue that, while The Pilgrim's Progress is certainly intensely individualistic, its individualism is expressed by truly allegorical means. C.S. Lewis, after all, argued long ago that allegory, or at least the kind of personification allegory originating with Prudentius, was developed as a means for medieval and post-medieval people to express their increasing awareness of inner, individual, experience. The Pilgrim's Progress, it might be argued, takes allegory as far in the direction of individualism as it could go while still remaining truly allegorical.
The argument that The Pilgrim's Progress is a true allegory takes off from the fundamental distinction between those of its characters who map onto abstract properties and those who map onto sets of persons. The latter category tends to have adjectivally based names, such as Faithful or Hopeful. Although Bunyan's use of such adjectivally based names was innovative, his use both of characters that map onto properties and of those that map onto sets of persons was not. These two kinds of characters can both be found generally in medieval and Renaissance allegory. Abstract personification of any kind involves conceptual metonymy: there is a mapping from a person who instantiates a property or is a member of a set onto the property or set themselves. Since conceptual metaphor and metonymy are constantly combining and intermingling, there is no surprise to see that they do so in the case of allegory. I will show how this combination of conceptual metaphor and metonymy is used by Bunyan to express his religious individualism. Although this individualism was something new, it was still however expressed by truly allegorical means. This is shown by the fact that essentially the same way of combining metaphor and metonymy is used in Everyman as in The Pilgrim's Progress, although there it expresses a Catholic and far less individualistic world view. An analysis of a scene in The Pilgrim's Progress involving input from a blend will finally be given to make yet more forceful the argument that Bunyan did indeed create a real allegory with all the force of large scale metaphorical projection that that implies.
Topic: Conceptual Metaphor and Allegory
My work has focused mainly on the study of metaphor, from the perspective of conceptual metaphor theory and from the perspective of rhetoric. My first study took up the metaphor Trade Is War. I examined instances of the metaphor in both print and other media and bolstered my data with focus group discussions. I became convinced in the course of this research that the examination of contextualized figurative utterances are especially illuminating because the relationships between one metaphor and another, as well as between various instances of the same metaphor, become available for inspection. What emerges from such an examination-in my view-is, on the one hand, confirmation of some of the most important theses of conceptual metaphor theory and, on the other, new reason to pay attention to the situations in which figures of speech and thought occur. While it seems to be true that metaphors and other figures are constrained by embodied perceptions, as conceptual metaphor theorists argue, they also have a great capacity to respond to rhetorical exigencies. Indeed, the rhetoric that attends metaphors is at least as important a constraint as the things identified by conceptual metaphor theorists.
In that respect and in another one, I argue that recent work in cognitive metaphor (which includes allegories, analogies, and similes) approaches the question of figurative thought too narrowly. It pays to little attention to rhetoric. And it pays too little attention to other figures that interact with metaphors-that crucially shape metaphors. My current project on "how we figure writing" proceeds along the lines of my earlier work, but takes a more capacious view of figuration. Indeed, as my examination has unfolded, it seems to me now that metonymy and other conceptual blends play, if possible, an even more fundamental role than metaphor in shaping how we talk about and how we think about writing.
It may seem that we already know plenty about our everyday metaphors-that their very familiarity is what makes them work. Yet the workings of even our most common metaphors for writing-to put thought into words, to find one's voice, to write clearly or forcefully or gracefully-can be poorly understood precisely because we make sense of them so automatically. To understand our most familiar writing metaphors well, we have to examine something broader: what I call the figurative rhetoric of writing. Our everyday metaphors work with and against everyday classifications of writing; everyday theories of writing expertise, and everyday narratives of writers and writing processes. Because our metaphors for writing work in coordination with a wide range of figurative resources, they are more organized, more complex, and more contentious than we have usually realized.
Part of my argument is that we can describe metaphors and figures better if we use more apt research methods: what we find depends very much on where and how we look. I ground my description of the figurative rhetoric of writing on three kinds of data: popular texts that comment on writing and writing processes; interviews with people whose careers depend significantly on writing; and focus groups with technical writers and teachers of technical writing. In keeping with most guidelines for qualitative studies, I have relied on the good-faith proposition that some measure of reliability and validity could be achieved if I committed my sustained attention to a variety of information sources-and if I examined the data with an open mind.
In fact, I would add another observation-a maxim, perhaps, about doing qualitative studies such as mine. Rather than hope for a controlled experiment, hope to find yourself surprised. It is precisely the lack of control that is important. I have been surprised as I have examined figures for writing. The figures we routinely rely on to understand writing-as familiar as they are to me and to all of us-do not function the way I thought they did. The way they work is, of course, available for us to see. But only if we look.
Ronald J. Ganze
Topic: Augustine's Confessions: Memory, Cognition, and the Neurology of Narrative
Though currently underrepresented in research in the humanities and the social sciences, neurological and cognitive models of the narrative self provide a needed corrective to the predominant social constructionist model, which maintains that the self is an illusion, the construct of various ideologies and discourses. This model can, at best, only account for one part of the equation of selfhood, as it ignores both the biological aspects of selfhood and the phenomenological experience of being a self. In the area of medieval studies, an era often denied a sense of selfhood by scholars working in later periods, the need for a more robust model of the self is particularly keen.
The natural starting point for any exploration of the medieval self is Augustine's Confessions, and a cognitive approach proves no different. What neurologists have dubbed "the impulse to narrative" is central to an understanding of the account of his life Augustine provides, as it forces us to look beyond Confessions as an ideologically-driven construct and to acknowledge that the narrative provided is, for Augustine, an accurate representation of self and self-understanding.
Crucial here is the fact that the neurosciences reveal that the self is not a fixed narrative, though in a manner different from that presupposed by social constructionism. Literary scholar Kay Young and neurologist Kay Saver point out that "Every single individual's memories are re-synthesized from widely distributed components," and that "each act of recall is a re-creation, drawing upon multiple, dynamically changing modular fragments to shape a new mosaic." Daniel Schacter's notions of encoded memories ("engrams"), the cue, and the retrieval environment explain that not all experiences are encoded in memory, and that when those encoded memories are activated, the cue for activation and the environment in which the memories are retrieved will necessarily alter the original memory.
The application of these theories to Confessions can provide a new understanding of the ways in which Augustine comes to understand his pre-conversion life in light of Christian belief. To take a well-known example, the childhood theft of the pears is an encoded memory that is cued by Augustine's reading of the temptation scene in the Garden of Eden from Genesis 3. The theft of the pears becomes a deliberate act of evil, disobedience of the law for the sheer pleasure of disobedience. Modern readers often read this resultant narrative as a purposive amalgam of the two, but fail to take into account that this is how Augustine remembers the incident at the moment of writing.
The reexamination of Confessions and other representations of the self from the medieval period reveals similar cognitive processes at work and can produce a more nuanced version of what it means to represent one's self in medieval literature.
Session: Cognitive Maps
Topic: Cognitive Allegory and Medieval Biblical Exegesis
Medieval allegorical exegesis is cognitive in the sense that it is not just a hermeneutic for interpreting the Bible, but finds there a key to interpreting everything else, including the present experience of the reader. It does this through developing a complex and infinitely flexible array of metaphorical mappings. The usual summary of allegorical exegesis into four senses, sometimes called the literal, allegorical, moral, and anagogical, merely compresses a repertoire of metaphorical schemes. Perhaps the most distinctive one, often described as figural or typological interpretation, compares narratives across eras of history and projects them into the afterlife. Dante's Divine Comedy famously articulates the same allegorical patterns from the other end, the afterlife rather than biblical history. In either case, the Bible or Dante's poem, these narrative patterns are made available to the reader for the sake of discovering the true significance of present events as participating in the story of creation, fall, and salvation.
Overlain on this temporal structure is the hierarchical one, familiar as the Great Chain of Being, that Lakoff and Turner, in More than Cool Reason, have analyzed as a still pervasive conceptual metaphor. The Bible was also taken as the key to reading what the Middle Ages called the book of nature, which also reveals something of the nature of God. A cognitive approach to the interaction of these hierarchical and temporal schemes as well as the others in the repertoire of allegorical exegesis shows it to be a disciplined, creative tool of understanding rather than a static orthodoxy or cacophony of idiosyncratic readings. Such a view also opens new perspectives on exegesis as a source of allegorical modes elsewhere, whether explicit in literature or implicit in philosophy and theology.
Furthermore, medieval allegorical interpretation affirms the principle that higher orders are more conceptually intricate, richer in meaning, than lower ones. It is a basic feature of the Great Chain concept that higher orders have capacities that lower ones lack. But this does not necessarily entail that higher orders are more meaningful. Whereas traditional theories of metaphor risk reducing this richness to mere similarity across levels, explanations of metaphor as conceptual integration or blending are providing tools that can account for it analytically. In medieval thought, this hierarchy of meaning was secured ontologically, from outside rather than inside, by the neoplatonic metaphysics of participation, which undergirded Christian allegory from the start in Origen and Augustine. Theologians found it expressed metaphorically in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "We see now through a mirror in an enigma, then face to face." Human understanding is only capable of seeing in an indirect, obscure way what angels now, and glorified humans will, see in the fullness expressed by the image of our richest sensory knowledge, looking someone in the face.
In Aquinas, this metaphysics was joined with an Aristotelian epistemology, which holds that our knowledge of these higher orders of being, like all knowledge, is based on sense experience, rather than coming from above by direct illumination. Aquinas develops an elaborate theory of analogy to explain how sense knowledge could extend to the divine, and it begs comparison with current cognitive approaches. Crucial to Aquinas's theory, as to all of mystical theology, is the dynamic interplay between affirmation and negation that projects higher orders as beyond and only partially accessible to reason and thus maintains an acute awareness of the analogical process and its limits.
Poets embraced such play, as in a famous passage from the fourteenth-century allegorical vision called Piers Plowman. To explain love, it offers a complex image that mixes schemes from plants, spatial relationships, eating, and salvation history:
And also the plant of peace, most precious of virtues:
For heaven might not hold it, so heavy was it of itself,
Til it had of the earth eaten its fill.
And when it had of this fold flesh and blood taken,
Was never leaf upon linden tree lighter thereafter,
And portable and piercing as the point of a needle,
That no armor might stop it nor any high walls.
The overlay of metaphors here is dizzying and yet manages to be coherent in symphonic way that conveys a higher order of meaning breaking into the world as its true, ultimate referent. Of further interest to me, finally, is how a blending of medieval allegory with cognitive theory might help open the latter to transcendent meaning.
Session: Cognitive Maps
Topic: Censorship and Conceptual Blending
Politically subversive texts, and their censorship by those in power who feel threatened by them, remain topics of great interest in literary studies. Neither censorship nor politically subversive texts are new, of course. However, what is new is conceptual blending theory, a recent development in cognitive science with great relevance to this particular field of literary study. As I argue in this presentation, conceptual blending theory enables us now to better understand how apparently subversive texts work.
Although some critics in the past might have defined certain politically subversive texts as allegories, Crisp's recent article on symbol and allegory reminds us that the term allegory is polysemous. Furthermore, the act of categorizing a text as an allegory might help explain what the text is but not what it does or how it works. Because such questions lie within the realm of poetics, it seems fitting to adopt a cognitive poetic approach to them and learn how conceptual blending theory can account for the allegoric nature of many politically subversive texts. For example, conceptual blending theory can offer several interesting insights into how Arthur Miller's play The Crucible has constantly been interpreted as a political parable for McCarthyism ever since it was first staged in January 1953 in New York. Likewise, the censorship of Mikhail Bulgakov's The Heart of a Dog by authorities in 1925 also provides an excellent example of why a novella, which is allegoric nature, was prohibited from being published for several decades in the Soviet Union. Again, although texts like these have been recognized as allegories or parables in the past, conceptual blending theory suggests how that complex act of recognition and interpretation is possible in the minds of readers.
Finally, I will conclude my talk by arguing that politically subversive writers often turn to parable or allegory in order to critique political systems indirectly. Such writers do so because they know they can count on their readers to make the intended inferences about the targets of their criticisms. But the minds of readers are similar to the minds of censors, which is why the challenge for writers is to write a text that readers will actually be able to read because it has not been censored. As the history of censorship suggests, however, it has not always been easy for writers to fool censors. This is because censors too can make the inferences that writers want readers but not censors to make. And yet, how those inferences are actually made has not been clearly understood until now. But that is precisely why the development of conceptual blending theory is relevant to this area of literary studies. It can offer new answers to old questions regarding censorship and the reception history of politically subversive texts.
Topic: Voltaire’s Allegory of Reason
Premodern allegorical narratives typically take the form of a quest where meaning is displaced from one signifier on to another, in search of a referent that will bridge the perceived gap between earthly being and divine sententia. This quest then unfolds as a reading process in which the central character, an agent whom I have elsewhere termed the 'internal reader', is caught up in a dialectic between on the one hand the desire for transcendence and on the other the permanent anxiety that his reading may prove a misinterpretation, if only because of the corrupted state of mankind, including human language, after the Fall.
The belief that language, even in its postlapsarian state, may serve as an instrument to discover transcendent truth is, of course, a culturally and historically determined phenomenon. Consequently, some critics have been led to associate the historical decline of allegory with the seventeenth-century epistemological shift in which "words lost the battle to 'things'" (Maureen Quilligan), which is to say that language ceased to be looked upon as a privileged means of discovering truth. However, this view may be contested on various grounds. Firstly, it might be pointed out that even at a time when the divine Logos was presumably still firmly relied upon as the ultimate foundation of all meaning, many allegorical narratives are seen to end on an inconclusive note. Here, one might invoke Chaucer's dream allegories, or Langland's Piers Plowman. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, narrative allegory retained its popularity until well after the epistemological shift signalled above, only to be ousted from the literary scene by the Romantic cult of the symbol (Walter Benjamin).
My more recent work on allegory has convinced me that the early modern shift from a transcendent to an immanent worldview, far from ringing allegory's death-knell, brought on a critical revaluation of the genre which made it an eminently suitable vehicle of Enlightenment philosophy. As a case in point I examine how Voltaire exploits allegory's dialectic movement between desire and hermeneutic anxiety to advance his personal conception of Enlightenment as an open-ended reading process which resists any attempt to fix its meaning. More specifically, I explore the importance of narrative allegory for Voltaire's thought as expressed in three of his best-known contes philosophiques: Candide, L'Homme aux quarante écus, and L'Ingénu.
It has often been observed that Voltaire was not an original thinker. Nor was he original in his choice of the philosophical tale to convey his thought. Rather, his originality resides in his particular use of this form, where metaphysical truths are displaced and debunked through narrative action (Pearson). Rather than a philosophical argument Voltaire gives us a story about a protagonist who starts off as a tabula rasa - or, as in the case of L'Homme, a bald number - and whose narrative search for identity, I argue, shapes itself as an allegory of the Enlightenment itself. It is my belief that this approach owes its interest primarily to its presentation of Reason not as a static concept, but as an ongoing narrative performance in which linguistic difference proclaims itself as a necessary precondition for the development of hero and story alike.
Topic: Emotional Intelligence? Cognitive Allegory and Emotions
This position paper outlines several ways in which an emotional valence is bound up with medieval allegorical presentation. In Prudentius's Psychomachia, emotions (such as Ira) figure prominently in imagined conflicts between inner states. For C.S. Lewis, investigation of inner conflict is the "real genius" and very essence of allegory. In another vein, medieval allegories like the Gesta Romanorum pack a moral lesson into entertaining stories. Emotions figure into the familiar binary of letter and spirit (or at least mirth and morality). The contemporary construct of "emotional intelligence" may make it possible to imagine continuity (in the medieval understanding as well as ours) rather than sheer opposition between these elements. Finally, Augustine's formidable principle that everything, properly read, illustrates God's love for us and our need to love our neighbour, represents a severe challenge to anyone hoping to entertain a discourse of emotion in cognitive allegory as it appears to beg the question - to be the very (emotional) "same text" decried by Fish (among many others). But if allegory engages elemental cognitive strategies and if emotional intelligence turns out to have significant explanatory power, then perhaps we need to develop strategies to parry love-as-reduction to see if there is a realm of emotional knowing in allegory, the texture of which can in its turn inform our contemporary investigations into cognition and interpretation. In essence my suggestion is: let's investigate the role of emotion in cognition with a view to redescribing medieval allegory and in turn using allegory with attenuated anxiety about reduction.
Topic: Embodiment and Cognition in Le Roman de la Rose: Dream States and Memory
The thirteenth-century allegory of Le Roman de la Rose provides an intriguing starting point for a discussion of the relationship between dreams, memory and narrative, as well a consideration of psychomotor associations with narrative, and an understanding of narrative from an evolutionary perspective.
Le Roman de la Rose opens with a dreamer who takes a walk around and into a walled garden, which is decorated with images of allegorical figures, and contains the personifications of attributes of Courtly Love. While the narrative explicitly states that the protagonist is dreaming, the evocation of the Ciceronian mnemonic, dubbed more descriptively the "architectural" mnemonic by Mary Carruthers, suggests that the protagonist is also remembering. This conflation of memory and dreams through the allegorical presentation, raises questions about the relationship between these two states of mind, and specifically about the nature of dreaming. Since Freud's theory that dreams are the gateway to the (un)remembered unconscious, dreaming has been considered to be an unconscious state. However, in the Roman de la Rose, the evocation of the architectural mnemonic denotes a very deliberate, conscious remembering, which appears to anticipate the theories of modern neuroscience. While the biological function of dreams, and consequently the evolutionary advantage, is still disputed, recent neurological research suggests that dreams perform a cognitive function (Kahn and Hobson, 2005), and that the dreaming brain is attempting to generate solutions to problems encountered in waking consciousness.
It is significant that as he engages in these two cognitive processes of dreaming and remembering, the protagonist is walking around and through the walled garden. While classical and medieval rhetoric has always emphasized the importance of the mind / body connection for cognitive function, such as memory, and creative endeavor, the importance of sensorimotor sensations to cognition was lost with Cartesian dualism. Recent theories by cognitive scientists such as Raymond Gibbs re-establish the importance of identifying psychomotor associations through the evidence of new research, and thus require literary critics to re-interpret medieval works in a perspective arguably less anachronistic than that of post-Cartesian readers.
By recognizing that the protagonist's cognitive activity is accompanied by motor activity, we are also recognizing that the narrative of the allegory is structured by his movement. This raises more questions about narrative's role in cognition, and within evolution, if we ask with Gottschall and Zunshine why homo aestheticus has evolved to privilege narrative, what evolutionary advantage pertains to reading novels, for example, and if reading can alter the neural substrates of the brain. Humans also evolved to become bipedal walkers and runners, a development which may be reflected in examples of "image schemas" (Johnson, Lakoff, Turner) which structure cognition in terms of movement (eg. "motion along a path"). A narrative, such as Le Roman de la Rose, which associates cognitive with motor activity, tantalizingly evokes the possibility that homo aestheticus not only reads and thinks through narrative, but also moves through narrative.
Some further questions raised by a discussion of dreaming, memory, and narrative in the Rose include the following: Is it possible to distinguish allegory in a dream state? Can we talk about remembering in the context of dream states? What is the role of sensorimotor sensations for the audience of a text which foregrounds precisely these?
Topic: The Cognitive Turn in Narratology: Major Revolution or Minor Restatement?
My main claim in this meta-theoretical paper is that there is no one general answer to this question, but rather a series of quite different partial answers depending on the area of enquiry. One generalization one could make though is that while the structuralist paradigm focused on the 'how' aspect and the possible worlds one on the 'what', the cognitive approach is interested in both, in their textual interrelations, in the ways both 'how' and 'what' are constructed in the reader's mind in the process of text comprehension, and in their resultant mental representations. In this sense the cognitive approach is wider than its predecessors, totalizing or all-encompassing, and in principle intended to provide a homogeneous or unified model of all key aspects of narrative. I next proceed to four brief case studies of the relation between the cognitive and the structuralist or possible worlds approaches concerning several narrative areas or issues.
- Non-standard uses of space, time and person deictics. Speaking of oneself in second or third person, of past or future events as present, taking another's perspective, historical present, free indirect discourse in first person narrative etc. These phenomena can be conceptualised in terms of linguistic theories such Hockett's design features of language, Buehler's Ich-origo or Jakobson's shifters, but also in terms of cognitive psychology theories about the 'projectable self' such as Tulving's theories of episodic memory, retrospection and prospection, and related theories of simulation. The two theoretical frameworks employ heterogeneous theoretical vocabularies and are ultimately about different things, so they cannot be unified, nor can their claims be intertranslated. One cannot hence replace the linguistic with the psychological. But one can correlate sets of claims from the two approaches and claim that the linguistic forms are indicators of underlying psychological processes, the psychological serving as cause or motivation for the linguistic. A cognitive-linguistic model, blending theory, provides an epistemic sense or interpretation of the formal linguistic patterns, employing notions such as viewpoint compression, mapping of mental spaces originating with different agents etc.
- Fictional worlds, their types, internal structure, and hierarchy. The macro-semantic approach draws on the tools of modal logic and of formal ontology. The cognitive linguistic one employs notions such as mental spaces, domain mapping, cross-domain identification and blending. Both approaches ultimately use the tools of formal logic and logical semantics, and are hence homogeneous as far as their basic theoretical vocabulary is concerned. The resultant world structures as described in both frames are practically identical and individual descriptions are easily intertranslatable both ways. What we have here is a convergence of descriptions arrived at via different routes or models. One major differences is that the semantic approach is substantive or product focused, while the cognitive is procedural or process oriented, asking which operations need to be carried out to give rise to a certain domain or to a certain pattern of relations between domains. In this respect the approaches complement each other: one highlighting the end and the other the means. The second difference is foundational, with the semantic approach regarding fictional worlds as abstract, timeless conceptual structures, while for cognitivists they are complex mental constructs produced by actual minds. When narrative operations of ontological level crossing, reversal or confusion are concerned, the two paradigms provide once again equivalent or isomorphic descriptions of the same phenomena even though couched in different terms, so no new information is gained by employing both.
- Characters qua individuals inhabiting fictional worlds. In narratology the main issue is the constitutive ontological conditions under which individuals can be said to exist and endure in a narrative domain, hence modal status, uniqueness, possession of properties, pertaining to a class/category, continuity over time and cross-world sameness. Cognitive approaches have a different key issue: the basic procedures and operations carried out in the reader's construction of a mental representation of a human or human-like individual on the basis of a narrative text. Of the six major conditions, only two are shared by both approaches: property attribution and categorization. The philosophical key concepts of the first approach are replaced in the other by psychological ones, such as prototype, schema, inferencing and attribution. The cognitive approach has in addition a mimetic bias, assuming that readers employ in the construction of fictional characters the same encyclopedic knowledge and schemas they employ for actual people. The minimal sharing of key issues, together with the difference in conceptual frameworks and foci of interest define the two approaches as two independent and different theoretisations of the shared pre-theoretical notion of 'literary character.'
- Cognitive mental functioning. Each of the basic cognitive operations listed in any textbook of cognitive psychology, from attention and perception to planning and problem solving, is portrayed in great detail in many artistic narratives. But structuralist and semantic approaches have no adequate theoretical tools to deal with this key aspect. It is only with the introduction of key notions of philosophy of mind and cognitive psychology to narratology that this vital area has acquired theoretical grounding and precise descriptive tools. Here the cognitive turn constitutes a true revolution, and the opening up of a vast and vital new area of narratology.
Session: Cognitive Maps
Topic: Allegorical Spaces: Hypotyposis and Attention at the Intersection of Language, Space, and Meaning
As a cognitive rhetorician, I study the role attention plays in meaning construction as a general human activity: the ability to induce cooperation in others by symbolic means alone is a singular characteristic of our species, Homo rhetoricus. Using resources in the "here-and-now" to structure scenes and scenarios referring to the "there-and-then" is a cognitive and cultural achievement implicating many overlapping processes, two of which will be discussed in this presentation as it relates to one manifestation of human symbolic inducement-allegory.
Allegory and allegoresis has its prototypical exemplars in St. Augustine's Confessions, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and other such products of the literary mind. Such literary examples will not be the focus of this discussion. Worthy though they be of patient analysis and understanding, they also distract us from the workings of allegory as a key manifestation of the everyday, rhetorical mind. At base, allegory is the projection of one story or story structure onto another, and such parabolic activity is a common feature of the human mind, as argued by Turner (1996). This means, in part, that allegory produces "two meanings" that imply and mutually impinge on each other. What we call allegory and allegoresis surfaces as two senses increasingly stimulate each other as meaning unfolds, with one meaning being presentational and grounded in the remembered present and the other being referential and topical and projected onto the past or future. These two meanings (understood as independent mental scenes and scenarios of varying resolution) create a third, integrated effect with significant properties of its own, and often with the effect of the cognizer having what can be called an allegorical experience, where the meaning structures from the there-and-then inhere in the here-and-now of structured spaces, resulting in a peculiar and uncanny sense in which the meaningfulness of the "there-and-then" unfolds before our eyes, and the cognizer becomes an "ontological amphibian," existing half-way between now and then, and feeling as if she is simultaneously here and there for some extended moments. In short, allegory can be argued to be a form of hypotyposis, a bringing before the senses, of the there-and-then, as if it were in the here-and-now. It is these symbolized "as if" experiences that I will address.
The framework for addressing the allegory of the everyday requires to cognitive models. The first is Fauconnier and Turner's Mental Spaces and Blending model (2002), in which meaning arises through the construction and elaboration and integration of mental spaces, discrete scenes and scenarios and facets thereof, that work effectively by compressing vital relations of time, space, cause, identity, and uniqueness into new scenes and scenarios with their own phenomenological qualities, hypotyposis being one signal effect of so-called double-scope blending. The second framework is my own model of the human attention system (Oakley, In Press), for none of the cognitive feats that bring about allegory can happen with attention. In fact, the structure of allegory requires that we oscillate attention between two distinct meaning structures; it also demands that between oscillations we selectively attend to specific types of semantic clusters or domains (aesthetics, economics, politics, the sacred, etc.). And perhaps most crucially, it demands that we "harmonize" or jointly attend to sufficiently similar meaning structures in order to direct act deliberately and collectively.
A view of allegory is a product of conceptual integration and attention will be defended and described through the patient analysis of two data sets: a zoological exhibit of Tropical Rainforests of Africa, Asia, and South America, and writings about architectural spaces, both of which attempt to create hypotyposic experiences that shunt cognizers between the here-and-now and there-and-then.
Topic: Developing narrative: Exploring preliterate children's mental representations of narrative
The ability to create and comprehend narratives is one of the most extraordinary features of the human mind. To Proust, reading narratives represented a sort of intellectual "sanctuary," offering humans access to countless "different realities they might never encounter or understand otherwise" (Wolf, 2007, p. 6). Reading is an opportunity to leave our own consciousness behind, and explore the perspective of another person, place, or time.
Psychologists have spent the last 20 years investigating the cognitive processes involved in narrative comprehension and research suggests that readers understand narratives by creating a mental representation of the text. These representation have been termed situation or mental models (e.g., Bower & Rinck, 2001; Johnson-Laird, 1983; Kintsch, 1998; Zwaan, Langston, & Graesser, 1995; Zwaan & Radvansky, 1998). Research also suggests that readers often behave as if they are embedded in the narrative situation rather than outside of it, tracking and adopting a character's spatial, temporal, and psychological perspective during the course of story comprehension (e.g., Black, Turner, & Bower, 1979; Bower & Morrow, 1990; Bryant, Tversky, & Franklin, 1992; Gernsbacher, Goldsmith, & Robertson, 1992; Graesser, Singer, & Trabasso, 1994; Morrow, Bower, & Greenspan, 1989; Özyürek & Trabasso, 1997; Tapiero, 2007; Trabasso & Suh, 1993; Zwaan, 1999). For example, Morrow et al. (1989) found that readers adopt a character's psychological perspective by adopting the character's mental goals. After reading a narrative about a character who while situated in a particular room (physical location) thought about an activity in a different location (mental goal location), readers were faster to identify objects in the character's mental goal location than in the character's physical location. These types of findings have led researchers to argue that narrative comprehension, and language comprehension more generally, involves a simulation of a described situation. This has also led researchers to reject the notion that the brain represents knowledge exclusively using amodal symbols and to argue instead that knowledge is represented modally (e.g., Barsalou, 2008; Fischer & Zwaan, 2008; Glenberg & Kaschak, 2002; Pecher & Zwaan, 2005; Sadoski & Pavio, 2001; Zwaan, 2004; Zwaan & Madden, 2005).
Despite all these studies, little is known about the emergence and development of this ability to construct mental representation of the actions and events of a story in humans. Do children possess this ability? When? And what aspects of a character's perspective in particular might children be able (or not able) to represent?
Our research attempts to fill these gap by exploring preliterate, 3- to 5-year-old children's mental representations of narratives. We've developed several novel methods to help us to study situation models of narratives in such young children, who cannot even read yet. To date, our findings suggest that by about 4 years of age children's mental representations of stories contain information about a character's mental goals (O'Neill & Shultis, 2007), as well as a character's spatio-temporal and motivational perspective (Fecica & O'Neill). These findings suggest that the ability to simulate an event described in a story may be a fundamental aspect of narrative comprehension already possessed by 3 years of age.
James J. Paxson
Topic: The Cognitive Allegory of Personification and the Cognitive Structures of Narrative Embedding
Previous research that I've done-going back to findings made in my 1994 book, The Poetics of Personification-determined that the ontology of literary character type can often depend on the kinds of diegetic structures in which characters are distributed. More specifically, the characters of personification allegory can find themselves, as I once put it, "quarantined" according to the levels of embedded or embedding discourse in a framed narrative. Thus, in Prudentius' late-fourth-century Psychomachia, allegorical personifications exist only at the outermost level of the poem's main diegesis; while historically "human" or real characters culled from biblical narrative exist only one diegetic level down-i. e., at the level of embedded narrative, or endodiegesis, told about in the recountings made by the vociferous personifications.
Taking into account some recent narratological and cognitive explorations into framed narrative and allegorical character invention, I would like to refine this idea's formal and cognitive implications. First, I stake the claim that the creation and quarantining of quasi-human, numinous abstractions along with other rarefied entities (gods, demons, spirits or ghosts) in an allegorical narrative may seem to increase as we move inward along the scale of arranged levels or boxes constituting a framed narrative. Thus, early in Vergil's Aeneid-an epic ur-text for the allegorical tradition that exhibits this formal code-the shadowy Harpy Celaeno appears and functions at the level of third-degree diegesis (or tri-diegesis, to use narratologist William Nelles's expression): its discourse is framed within Aeneas' narration at the court of Dido, a discourse which itself exists within the primary framing narration of Virgil's epic poem. The structure organizes later allegories, appearing as late as in Johannes Kepler's 1634 Somnium, an allegorical dream vision that places at its endodiegetic center the voice of a numinous daemon ex levania ("demon from the moon"). This project thus also picks up where I'd left off in my important study of Kepler's own cognitive allegory published in 2001, "Revisiting the Deconstruction of Narratology" (Style 35.1: 126-500). In so doing, I explore further the formalistic connections between character ontology in allegory and narratological structure.
Second, I re-contour this project in the narratology and in the cognitive poetics of allegorical characterization as a "machinic" rhetoric. For example-and following the theoretical study of cognition and character proffered in recent studies such as Douglas Hofstadter's I Am a Strange Loop, David Herman's Story Logic," Bruce Clarke's Posthuman Metamorphoses, and Jeffrey Jerome Cohen's Medieval Identity Machines-allegorical character identity can hinge on the function of a localized master trope such as chiasmus or antimetabole (as it has been re-described by historian of rhetoric Jeanne Fahnestock); while it is then "cognitively distributed" (pace the theorization of Edwin Hutchins, Herman and Clarke, and the preeminent thinkers about machine-assemblage cognition, Deleuze and Guattari) among different diegetic levels and ontological domains. The results of my inquiry promise to be more inclusive and far-reaching than the pictures produced in standard history-of-rhetoric projects that hold allegorical character and cognition to be built up out of smaller, localized tropes as additive rather than distributive composites. An early modern though retro-medieval allegory attempting to make a novel statement in scientific knowledge production, such as Kepler's Somnium, therefore reveals far more nuance and complexity than had been heretofore recognized either in literary criticism or in science studies.