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Water and Cognition in Early Modern English Literature

314 pages
Amsterdam University Press
Water and cognition seem unrelated things, the one a physical environment and the other an intellectual process. The essays in this book show how bringing these two modes together revitalizes our understanding of both. Water and especially oceanic spaces have been central to recent trends in the environmental humanities and premodern ecocriticism. Cognition, including ideas about the “extended mind” and distributed cognition, has also been important in early modern literary and cultural studies over the past few decades. This book aims to think “water” and “cognition” as distinct critical modes and also to combine them in what we term “watery thinking.” Water and Cognition brings together cognitive science and ecocriticism to ask how the environment influences how humans think, and how they think about thinking. The collection explores how water — as element, as environment, and as part of our bodies — affects the way early modern and contemporary discourses understand cognition.
Author Bio
Nic Helms is Assistant Professor of English at Plymouth State University. They are the author of Cognition, Misreading, and Shakespeare’s Characters (Palgrave, 2019) and of sundry articles and book chapters on cognition, disability, and tragedy, the most recent of which is “Seeing Brains: Shakespeare, Autism, and Self-Identification” in Redefining Disability (Brill, 2022). Steve Mentz is Professor of English at St. John’s University in New York City. He is the author of An Introduction to the Blue Humanities (Routledge, 2023), Ocean (Bloomsbury, 2020), and the editor of A Cultural History of the Sea in the Early Modern Era (Bloomsbury, 2021), among other books, chapters, and articles.