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Title: Convolutions : writing the mind and the neurology of the literary brain
Author: Romén, Reyes-Peschl
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 4583
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2016
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A convolution is a loop, or a fold, as the folds of the brain are sometimes termed the cerebral convolutions. But it is a loop in another sense, in the way stories or narratives are often referred to as convolutions (or convoluted) if their plots and themes are complex and resist any linear, straightforward reading. These senses are well established, but in this thesis I propose a new interpretation of convolution (or convolving), as a metaphor for a type of process imbedded in multiple texts, discourses and disciplines, primary amongst which are literature, neuroscience and philosophy of mind. Highlighting this looping, reflexive process means actively engaging in it, as I do, and thus I ultimately promote the heretofore unremarked phenomenon of convolution as a self-conscious practice. The thesis tracks this overarching metaphor of convolutions through a series of sub-metaphors, or instantiations of convolutions, each of which comprises a chapter. The introductory chapter interrogates the revolutionary rhetoric of neuroscience, and proposes a convolutionary approach gleaned from literature to replace it. The first chapter proper explains that science sees itself as a quest with the brain its ultimate goal, but that more often than not, this quest is quixotic - and that if acknowledged, quixotism can actually be illuminating. The second chapter argues that neuroscientists paint themselves in the vein of literary detectives, and in doing so, are as susceptible to the genre's pitfalls as its boons. The third chapter claims that if the brain is a labyrinth, then so too is the brain science that deems it as such, and literature's treatment of the figure of the labyrinth (the treatment itself labyrinthine) can provide a productive framework for analysing this claim. The fourth chapter examines the unchallenged but ubiquitous metaphorical assumption that lies behind the idea of neurons firing, and asks if the overlooked ethical quandary at the nexus of brains and bullets would not benefit from the more self-aware ballistic analyses of literary texts. A concluding chapter brings all these overlapping threads together, suggesting how the notion of convolutions might have important ramifications beyond neuroscience and literature - for new textual methodologies and epistemological categories, for new interdisciplinary endeavours, and above all, for new conceptions of the self.
Supervisor: Stella, Bolaki ; Charlotte, Sleigh Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature