By M. Winkleman, Michael A. Winkelman
Investigations into how the mind truly works have resulted in amazing discoveries and those findings hold profound implications for studying literature. This examine applies contemporary breakthroughs from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology so that it will deepen our knowing of John Donne's Songs and Sonnets.
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Additional info for A Cognitive Approach to John Donne’s Songs and Sonnets
In trying to answer that question, it might be desirable to explore some of the prehistoric foundations and elemental properties of language. That is, rather than rehashing the trivial pursuits passing for English studies nowadays, an examination of important fundamentals of metaphor and speech may prove more useful. Considered broadly, I contend, ordinary human communication is truly wondrous in its own right; extreme cases like Donne’s “concetti metafisici” are, to coin a phrase, the icing on the cake.
Since his “rare poems” first circulated, many fans and foes have left their opinions. Their verdicts fall mainly into two camps: the detractors led by John Dryden and Samuel Johnson, and the cheerleaders captained by T. S. Eliot. Preferences are personal, but findings in cognition can help adjudicate this disagreement and clarify its consequences. In 1783, Johnson infamously disparaged Metaphysical Wit: The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions; their learning instructs, and their subtilty surprises; but the reader commonly 36 A C O G NIT IVE AP P ROACH TO SONGS AND S ONNETS thinks his improvement dearly bought, and, though he sometimes admires, is seldom pleased.
Our memories, feelings, dilemmas, and worries; our fondest hopes and dreams; our Alexandrian libraries filled with snippets of favorite songs, movie scenes, and cartoons; our virtual photo albums and soundtracks archiving our exes; our psychosomatic sensations and phenomenological perceptions; our innermost apprehensions and lusts; our nagging doubts and cold-blooded terrors— all these make for a vast landscape to wander around in where the “I” reigns (though not absolutely). The underlying conceptual metaphor seems, quite literally, to touch a nerve.
A Cognitive Approach to John Donne’s Songs and Sonnets by M. Winkleman, Michael A. Winkelman