LIT 392 - Neurofictions

Contemporary neuroscience has a long way to go from mapping neural connections to scientific mastery over consciousness, memory, and emotion. But the limits of science have never prevented artists and writers from imagining its possible futures. This course engages with two centuries of debate in the mind sciences and in Western culture at large that pit materialism against idealism, mechanistic against romantic views of the mind. We look at historical attempts to explain and control human consciousness, using history, philosophy, art, and especially science fiction to examine what is at stake in efforts to reduce the mind to a series of electrical impulses in the brain.Writers and artists have invoked the utopian possibilities of mental perfectibility through psychological (or psychic) tinkering; at the same time, their work often critiques the simplistic notion that science can provide a complete account of human experience. With the advent of neuroimaging and psychopharmaceuticals, the arts play an ever-more crucial role in situating the mind sciences in contemporary culture. Enrollment Requirements: Prerequisite: 3 credits of IH1 and 3 credits of IH2, or HMST 220 or HMST 230.
Fulfills Literature or Humanistic Studies elective
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