Studies in Fiction

A literary genre has materialized in the past fifteen years that, as Marco Roth (with some notoriety) puts it, is marked by “the novel of consciousness or the psychological or confessional novel — the novel, at any rate, about the workings of a mind.” This category of narrative documents the workings and misfirings of the mind alongside emerging ideas of a new means of accessing and dramatizing interiority. Works marked as neuro-novels include novels by Ian McEwan, Jonathan Lethem, Mark Haddon, Richard Powers, Rivka Galchen, Haruki Murakami, and John Wray. We will also consider the picture of a currently unmapped but potentially fully knowable brain; what would such a model of the mind do to ideas of agency, selfhood, and even free will? This course will use the aforementioned texts and others alongside films such as Je T’aime, Je T’aime; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; and Inside Out, to explore how fiction considers what is problematic about a direct identification between mind and brain.