Poetics of Cognition investigates the material effects of experimental poetics using new evidence emerging from cognitive science. It asks: How do experimental poems “think” and how do we think through them? Examining experimental modes such as the New Sentence, proceduralism, projective verse, sound poetry, and visual poetry, Jessica Lewis Luck argues that experimental poems materialize not so much the content as the activity of the embodied mind, and they can thus function as a powerful scaffolding for extended cognition, both for the writer and the reader. While current critical approaches tend to describe the effects of experimentalism solely in terms of emotion and sensation, Luck shifts from the feeling to the thinking that these poems can generate, expanding the potential blast radius of experimental poetic effects into areas of linguistic, sonic, and visual processing and revealing a transformational potency that strictly affective approaches miss.

The cognitive research Luck draws upon suggests that the strangeness of experimental poetry can reshape the activity of the reader’s mind, creating new forms of attention, perception, and cognition. This book closes by shifting from theory to praxis, extracting forms of teaching from the forms of thinking that experimental poems instill in order to better enable their transformative effects in readers and to bring poetry pedagogy into the twenty-first century.

“A pleasure to read. Poetics of Cognition makes a significant contribution, both in its general thesis about the cognitive effects of experimental poetry and its generous, insightful readings of the individual poets and poems.”—N. Katherine Hayles, author, Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious

“This is a timely, highly intelligent, well-informed study of contemporary poetry that should be widely welcomed. Jessica Lewis Luck is a first-rate close reader of poems; her detailed analyses are deft, incisive, original, and pacey.”—Peter Middleton, author, Expanding Authorship: Transformations in American Poetry since 1950

Poetics of Cognition is that rare breed of book that can bring together two modes of thought as different as experimental poetics and cognitive science, and supercharge both. No mind other than that of Jessica Lewis Luck could have seen these connections and written them into existence—an absolute bliss.”—Jan Lauwereyns, author, Brain and the Gaze: On the Active Boundaries of Vision

“Luck’s study of experimental poetry is a work of literary criticism, critical theory, and philosophy. . . . the science behind cognition is at the heart of this book, and it is most interesting to read how certain poems can affect the brain—reform how one thinks. . . .  Poetics of Cognition traces the history of avant-garde and experimental poetics from the early-twentieth-century Dadaists to the Language poetry of today. Luck does not see the postmodern avant-garde as apolitical; she places contemporary poetry in the widest sociopolitical contexts. A most thoughtful study.”—Choice

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228 pages
Trim size
6 x 8.5 inches
20 b&w images, 1 color image, 2 b&w photos