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Meaning and Mind

A Cognitive Approach to Peter Weiss’ Prose Work

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Ana Margarida Abrantes

Literature happens in the mind. Literary texts are the product of an intentional mind addressing another mind, and language is the instrument in this cognitive mediation. This work emerges in the confluence of three different research areas: literary studies, cognitive linguistics and cognitive science. Its object is a selection of prose works by Peter Weiss, covering three different subgenres: experimental, autobiographical, and historical prose. Within this research framework this study addresses the question of how we make sense of literary text, i.e., how literary texts become semantically and existentially meaningful and what cognitive processes are involved in this task. One second question explored is how mental processes such as perception, attention or memory are represented in the selected texts, and how this conveyance confirms or differs from the cognitive study of these processes. The main aim of this work is thus not to provide an alternative interpretation for the selected texts, but to explain how the existing ones are made possible on account of the present knowledge about the human mind.
The Author: Ana Margarida Abrantes studied German and English at the Universities of Aveiro, Essen and Innsbruck. She completed her M.A. in cognitive linguistics and received her Ph.D. in German language and literature from the Catholic University of Portugal in 2008. As a post-doc scholar supported by the Portuguese research foundation FCT, she was a visiting researcher at the Department of Cognitive Science of Case Western Reserve University (USA) between 2007 and 2009. She is currently senior researcher at the Center for Communication and Culture at the Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon. Her research interests include cognitive literary studies, cognitive semiotics, cognitive culture studies and German language and literature.