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“His stethoscope, his beard, her breasts”: Narrative Gaps, Automaticity, and the Microfiction of Lydia Davis

Authors:

Uma Kanth ,

Stony Brook University, US
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Patricia A. Dunn

Stony Brook University, US
About Patricia
Professor, Department of English
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Abstract

What could be the value of a story so short that it would be called “microfiction”? According to Marc Botha, short fiction mirrors “the short attention span of modern readers,” as well as “the gaps and fragmented-ness of modern consciousness.” While microfiction is not necessarily the only form of fiction that engages with cognitive processes, as there is a rich history of describing literary studies such as poetry through the lens of cognitive science. This article explores microfiction’s structure and its relation to cognitive processes. Using 2013 Man Booker Prize-awardee Lydia Davis’s microfiction as a sample oeuvre, applied are a range of cognitive science methodologies—an interdisciplinary approach encompassing psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, artificial intelligence, anthropology, and linguistics—to consider how certain genres of literature mimic and even refract the ways in which the human brain processes information. Putting microfiction as a literary work in dialogue with cognitive processing demonstrates seemingly disparate fields can provide insight into both literature and cognitive science.

How to Cite: Kanth, U. and Dunn, P.A., 2020. “His stethoscope, his beard, her breasts”: Narrative Gaps, Automaticity, and the Microfiction of Lydia Davis. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 12(1), pp.1–7. DOI: http://doi.org/10.7710/2168-0620.0269
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Published on 10 Jun 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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