Cognitive Cultural Studies
Discursive modes
The Literary Imagination
A Resource Collection
(under construction 8 May 2001)

See the general theme and individual abstracts for the crossdisciplinary international conference
Imagination and the Adapted Mind held at UCSB in August 1999.

Children who play creatively early show best creativity and problem-solving later: Sandra Russ at CWRU reports (8/99)
Developmental chronology
Myelination in development (12/00)
Narrative and neuroscience bibliography
The Dynamics of Brain Processing (97)
Use it or lose it: Key Brain Growth Goes on Into Teens (97)

History as imaginative reconstruction

Ferguson, Niall (ed.) (1999 [1997]). Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals. New York: Basic Books. Quotes from this book cited in the review (external) of his The Pity of War:

When the historian asks himself about the probability of a past event, he actually attempts to transport himself, by a bold exercise of the mind, to the time before the event itself, in order to gauge its chances, as they appeared on the eve of its realization.

Marc Bloch, French medievalist

It is only if we place ourselves before the alternatives of the past … only if we live for a moment, as the men of the time lived, in its still fluid context and among its still unresolved problems, if we see these problems coming upon us, … that we can draw useful lessons from history.
Hugh Trevor-Roper, English historian
Ferguson, Niall (1998). The Pity of War. New York: Basic Books. Review (external). A revival of counterfactual analysis in historiography:
While the vantage of hindsight might persuade historians that they can identify the “necessary” causes of events, Ferguson says the world appears very different at the time to those who participate in those events, especially to powerful political figures. Their world of decision-making is one that is full of counterfactuals. They have to judge the outcome of their decisions and, in this process, must pose to themselves a constant series of “what if?” questions. To recover their thinking, historians thus need to recover the counterfactuals they confronted.

Literary sources

Biology and Poetry -- links to bibliotherapy, poetry therapy, and much else.

Coover, Robert (2000?). Literary Hypertext: The Passing of the Golden Age (external).

"Reading such text remains, for me, the most interactive thing that we as humans do, converting these little black squiggles on white backgrounds into vast landscapes, ancient battlegrounds, and distant galaxies, into events more vivid than those on the news or on the streets outside with characters we know better than we know our own families and friends. That’s what writers invented: this enlargement of our imaginative powers."

"Could it be that text itself is a worn-out tool of a dying human era, a necessary aid, perhaps, in a technically primitive world, but one that has always distanced the user from the world she or he lives in, a kind of thick inky scrim between sentient beings and their reality? [...] It may be that it will be the image, not the word, that will dominate all future cultural exchanges, including literature, if then it can still be called that. "

Wilde, Oscar (1889). The Decay of Lying.


Chartrand, T. l. & Bargh, J. A. (1999). The chameleon effect: the perception-behavior link and social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 76, 6: 893-910. Discusses possible functions of nonconscious mimicry and imitation ("the chameleon effect").

Nichols, Shaun and Stephen Stich (2000). A cognitive theory of pretense. Cognition 74. 2: 115-147. Abstract. Reviewed by Andrew Hon.

Freud, Sigmund (1913). The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: Macmillan. Full text (external).

Games do make kids aggressive (2000). The Observer reports.

Robinson et al., Effects of Reducing Children's Television and Video Game Use on Aggressive Behavior (2001). Abstract. and news report.

Art and the Brain: special issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies 6. 6/7 (June-July 1999); see particularly Goguen's Editorial introduction (external).

Pettigrew on the neuroscience of laughter: W. Wayt Gibbs reports.

Ramachandran, Vilayanur S. (1996). The Evolutionary Biology of Self-Deception, Laughter, Dreaming and Depression: Some Clues from Anosognosia. Medical Hypotheses 47: 347-362 (see related abstracts).

Ramachandran, Vilanayur (2000). Mirror neurons and imitation learning as the driving force behind "the great leap forward" in human evolution. The Third Edge. Full text (external).

"It's as if anytime you want to make a judgement about someone else's movements you have to run a VR (virtual reality) simulation of the corresponding movements in your own brain and without mirror neurons you cannot do this."

"...the whole "nature-nurture debate" is largely meaningless as far as human are concerned. Without the genetically specified learnability that characterizes the human brain Homo sapiens wouldn't deserve the title "sapiens" (wise) but without being immersed in a culture that can take advantage of this learnability, the title would be equally inappropriate."

More on mirror neurons

Ruby, Perrine and Jean Decety (2001). Effect of subjective perspective taking during simulation of action: a PET investigation of agency. Nature Neuroscience 4. 5 (May 2001): 546-550. Abstract.

Sutherland, Gary R and Bruce McNaughton (2000). Memory trace reactivation in hippocampal and neocortical neuronal ensembles. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 10: 180-186. Abstract.

de Waal, Frans B. M. No imitation without identification (1998)

Wilson, Matt. Rats dream about mazes (news wire, 2001).

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© 1999 Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles