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From psychobabble to neuro-nonsense: cognitivism, neuroscience and children’s literature

Lesnik-Oberstein, K. ORCID: (2021) From psychobabble to neuro-nonsense: cognitivism, neuroscience and children’s literature. In: Hagen, A. M. (ed.) Mediating Children's Reading. LeHigh University Press, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. (In Press)

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This chapter discusses how ideas of “mediation” are brought into play in terms of ideas of how “texts” and “readers” relate to one another by questioning how “texts” and “readers” are defined in children’s literature criticism that draws directly or indirectly on developmental psychology and neuroscience. The chapter cautions against perceiving any way of mediating between texts and readers as revelatory of some static or final truth, and examines how the very idea of “mediation” itself is in this context produced by assuming an already-known separation between what are claimed to be “text” and “reader.” The “common-sense” idea that texts and readers are obviously separate entities is argued in fact to draw on notions of a relationship between “real life” and “fiction,” where each is already known as such without question. I will in this chapter be exploring ways of accounting specifically for the power – or, as Ruth Leys puts it, the apparent “attractive[ness]” – of so many of the neuro-turn narratives for children’s literature and its criticism through drawing parallels between this widespread interest in cognitivist and neuroscientific approaches in evolutionary psychology and certain investments in childhood. My interest lies in analysing what is at stake in such approaches.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Graduate Centre for International Research in Childhood (CIRCL)
ID Code:95734
Uncontrolled Keywords:children's literature; neuroscience; developmental psychology
Publisher:LeHigh University Press

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