Poetry and the Scope of Metaphor: Toward a Cognitive Theory of Literature
METAPHOR AND METONYMY AT THE CROSSROADS: A COGNITIVE PERSPECTIVE, Antonia Barcelona, ed., pp. 253-281, Mouton de Gruyter, 2000
20 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2010
Date Written: 2000
The question I raise in this paper is, 'In what ways can cognitive theory as it has been developed in recent years contribute toward a more adequate theory of literature?' To answer this question, I look at Emily Dickinson’s poem, 'My Cocoon Tightens,' to show how the general mapping skills that constitute the cognitive ability to create and interpret metaphor can provide a more coherent theory than the intuitive and ad hoc approaches of traditional criticism. I then look at another Dickinson poem, 'My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun,' to show how a cognitive metaphor approach can illuminate the insights, and the limitations, of traditional literary criticism. Finally, I show how the application of cognitive poetics can identify and evaluate literary style by discussing a poem generally believed to be by Dickinson but which proved to be a forgery, and end by comparing cognitive poetics to other cognitive approaches.
Keywords: cognitive poetics, cognitive mapping, aesthetic evaluation, Emily Dickinson, forgery
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