Cognitive poetics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Cognitive poetics is a school of literary criticism that applies the principles of cognitive science, particularly cognitive psychology, to the interpretation of literary texts. It has ties to reader-response criticism, and also has a grounding in modern principles of cognitive linguistics.

Topics addressed by cognitive poetics include deixis; text world theory (the feeling of immersion within texts); schema, script, and their role in reading; attention; foregrounding; and genre.

One of the main focal points of cognitive literary analysis is conceptual metaphor, an idea pioneered and popularized by the works of Lakoff, as a tool for examining texts. Rather than regarding metaphors as ornamental figures of speech, cognitive poetics examines how the conceptual bases of such metaphors interact with the text as a whole.

Prominent figures in the field include Reuven Tsur, who is credited for originating the term,[1] Ronald Langacker, Mark Turner, Gerard Steen, Joanna Gavins and Peter Stockwell. Although Tsur's original, "precise and particular" sense of the term poetics was related to his theory of "poetry and perception", it has come to be "more broadly applied" to any "theory" or "system" of the workings (Greek poiesis) of literature of any genre.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Reuven Tsur ... has run a cognitive poetics project since the early 1970s, long before the first publications in cognitive linguistics." Gerard Steen and Joanna Gavins, "Contextualising cognitive poetics", in Gavins and Steen (2003): p. 3.
  2. ^ "Cognitive poetics is still relatively new as a discipline, though it makes clear reconnections back to much older forms of analysis such as classical rhetoric." Stockwell (2002): p. 8.


  • Bachelard, Gaston (1960). La poétique de la rêverie. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
  • Boyd, Brian. On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. Harvard, 2009.
  • Brône, Geert and Jeroen Vandaele (2009). Cognitive Poetics. Goals, Gains and Gaps. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter
  • Gavins, Joanna and Gerard Steen (2003). Cognitive Poetics in Practice. London: Routledge.
  • Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Houghton, 2012.
  • Semino, Elena and Jonathan Culpeper (2002). Cognitive Stylistics: Language and Cognition in Text Analysis. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Stockwell, Peter (2002). Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction. London: Routledge.
  • Tsur, Reuven (2008). Toward a Theory of Cognitive Poetics, Second, expanded and updated edition. Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press.
  • Vermeule, Blakey. Why Do We Care about Literary Characters? Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2010.
  • Wolf, Maryanne. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. Harper, 2007.
  • Zunshine, Lisa. Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel. Ohio State University, 2006.