Literary Morphology: Nine Propositions in a Naturalist Theory of Form

PSYARTS: An Online Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts, 2006

43 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2009 Last revised: 13 Nov 2009

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

Naturalist literary theory conceives of literature as an adaptive behavioral realm grounded in the capacities of the human brain. In the course of human history literature itself has undergone an evolution that has produced many kinds of literary work. In this article I propose nine propositions to characterize a treatment of literary form. These propositions concern neural and mental mechanisms, and literary evolution in history. Textual meaning is elastic - through not infinitely so - and constrained by form. Form indicates the computational structure of the act of reading and is the same for all readers. Over the long term, literary forms become more complex and sophisticated.

Keywords: literature, morphology, poetics, cognition, form

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., Literary Morphology: Nine Propositions in a Naturalist Theory of Form (2006). PSYARTS: An Online Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1503087

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