Lecture with Chanita Goodblatt
Where: Faculty Common Room 193, Humanities Building
In the introduction to his 1912 edition of Donne’s poetry, Herbert J.C. Grierson writes of “the vein of sheer ugliness which runs through his work, presenting details that seem merely and wantonly repulsive.” Dr. Goodblatt will argue that the grotesque is rather a constructive aspect of Donne’s thought, by focusing on his poems “The Flea” and “The Bait.” This talk will extend such discussions of the grotesque by focusing on the way in which a modern empirical study sets out the reciprocal link between literary studies and cognitive psychology: how various cognitive processes (e.g., problem-solving, image-making) are utilized in understanding literary texts; and how the qualities of these texts (e.g., rhyme and rhythm, metaphors, ambiguity) elicit various cognitive effects or processes; and the role of embodied cognition in the reader’s response.
Through the empirical and cognitive study of the metaphors in each text, the grotesque will be discussed as “an irreconcilable clash between opposites,” as well as a transposition of Wolfgang Kayser’s concept of the Gestaltung (forming/shaping) “from its structural to its perceptual context” – with subsequent emphasis on both text and reader. Further, Dr. Goodblatt will discuss how the grotesque sustains bi-directionality in a metaphor, as a tension between its two subjects, while allowing each to alternatively become the focus of one’s attention during reading. In focusing on the semantic and perceptual tensions that sustain the grotesque, Dr. Goodblatt’s argument will reposition the discussion of Donne’s poetry within the developing field of Cognitive Literary Studies, foregrounding as well the tradition of empirical studies begun by I.A. Richards.
Chanita Goodblatt is Professor in the Abrahams-Curiel Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, specializing in intersections of Jewish and Christian thought in early modern literary cultures, the poetry of John Donne, cognitive poetics, and early modern women’s writing and editing practice. Professor Goodblatt’s recent publications include: The Christian Hebraism of John Donne: Written with the Fingers of Man’s Hand (Duquesne University Press); Religious Diversity in Early Modern English Texts: Catholic, Jewish, Feminist and Secular Dimensions (Wayne State University Press), ed. Arthur Marotti and Chanita Goodblatt; Women Editing/Editing Women: Early Modern Women Writers and the New Textualism, ed. Ann Hurley and Chanita Goodblatt; Tradition, Heterodoxy and Religious Culture: Judaism and Christianity in the Early Modern Period (Ben-Gurion University Press); and a Special Issue of Poetics Today: Bi-directionality and Metaphor.