The Balzan Interdisciplinary Seminar: Literature as an Object of Knowledge

This project explores the value of literature as an object of knowledge, and more specifically, the cognitive value of literature in relation to other kinds of discourse. The word “seminar” is used in the title to indicate the heuristic nature of the project: the core of the work will lie in discussions designed to foster a sharper awareness of the issues that are at stake and to explore new directions in the understanding of literature. The research project will be run at the Research Centre of St John’s College, Oxford. There are two principal sub-themes: (i) historical approaches to literature as an object, vehicle and instrument of knowledge (with particular reference to the early modern period); (ii) cognitive approaches to literature. Individual research programmes are used as test-cases or illustrations of the broader interdisciplinary issues raised by the project.


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