Form, Event, and Text in an Age of Computation

25 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2016

Date Written: August 11, 2016


Using fragments of a cognitive network model for Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129 we can distinguish between (1) the mind/brain cognitive system, (2) the text considered merely as a string of verbal or visual signifiers, and (3) the path one’s attention traces through (1) under constraints imposed by (2). To a first approximation that path is consistent with Derek Attridge’s concept of literary form, which I then adapt to Bruno Latour’s distinction between intermediary and mediator. Then we examine the event of Obama’s Eulogy for Clementa Pinckney in light of recent work on synchronized group behavior and neural coordination in groups. A descriptive analysis of Obama’s script reveals that it is a ring-composition and the central section is clearly marked in audience response to Obama’s presentation. I conclude by comparing the Eulogy with Tezuka’s Metropolis and with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Keywords: literary criticism, cognitive science, ring-composition, description, method, cognitive poetics, cognitive criticism, computation, computational linguistics

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., Form, Event, and Text in an Age of Computation (August 11, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

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