University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Language and the Literary Mind

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION The study-unit proposes a cognitive turn to the reading of literary texts. It offers a theoretically informed consideration of the language structures and cognitive processes that underlie the production and reception of language. Linguistic choices of writer and reader are seen as directly related to cognition. It draws from text world theory, schema theory, and conceptual metaphors by analysing their function in the reading of literary texts. Furthermore, the study-unit explores how empirical evidence of literary reading processes proposes an unconventional view of literature.

Study-unit Aims:

- to introduce the cognitive turn to literary text analysis;
- to provide an optimal analytical environment to generate a debate on theory and empirical evidence;
- to create an awareness of the synergies possible when combining science and literature.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• identify different theories related to cognitive stylistics;
• analyse literary texts from a cognitive stylistic dimension;
• identify the various contexts in which literary texts are produced and read;
• demonstrate an understanding of the multidimensional role of text-context-reader;
• distinguish between theory and empirical evidence related to the reading of literary texts.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• adopt close reading skills;
• use a range of analytical skills;
• synthesise and evaluate the various factors that influence the creation of the text and the understanding and interpretation of the text;
• engage in independent critical thought;
• develop a structured systematic approach to a variety of written literary texts;
• demonstrate an ability to replicate empirical research in literary reading;
• develop sustained and persuasive arguments on the basis of evidence;
• produce scholarly presentation of material adopting the appropriate style and tone.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Students will be given a reading pack and a full reading list at the start of the study-unit, but the following provide some useful background:

Cook, G. (1994) 'Discourse and literature: The interplay of form and mind'. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fauconnier, G. (1994) 'Mental Spaces'. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gavins, J. (2007) 'Text World Theory: An introduction'. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Stockwell, P. (2002) 'Cognitive Poetics: An introduction'. London: Routledge.
Turner, M. (1996) 'The Literary Mind: The origins of thought and language'. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Odette Vassallo

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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