St Andrews/Bonn Collaborative Research Grant (#1 Workshop – St Andrews June 23)

Funded by the Collaborative Research Grant of the Universities of Bonn and St Andrews, the first (hybrid) workshop of our project "Narrative Space and Possible Worlds: Encountering Ancient Narratives from a Cognitive Science Perspective" took place on June 29th. The meeting provided a first opportunity for us as a team of 11 to introduce our respective sub-projects and discuss them with each other.

Stefanie Archut, PhD student in Christian Archaeology (Bonn)
Lewis Doney, Professor in Tibetan Studies (Bonn)
Stefan Feuser, Professor in Classical Archaeology (Bonn)
Eric Foster-Whiddon, PhD student, New Testament (St Andrews)
Austin Kopack, PhD Student, Theology (St Andrews)
Lenia Kouneni, Lecturer in Art History (St Andrews)
Michael Lyons, Senior Lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew Bible (St Andrews)
Lara Mührenberg, PhD student in New Testament Studies / Christian Archaeology (Bonn)
Jan Rüggemeier, Professor in New Testament Studies (Bonn)
Elizabeth Shively, Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies (St Andrews)
Nicolas Wiater, Senior Lecturer in Classics (St Andrews)

Narrative Space and Possible Worlds: Encountering Ancient Narratives from a Cognitive Science Perspective
How do people understand and use the stories depicted in texts and art? What gives us a sense of “being there” as we engage stories? And, how do stories encourage a way of seeing and taking our place in the world? This interdisciplinary project aims to answer such questions by investigating the possibilities and limitations of using of cognitive (‘mind’) science, which illuminates how people think, to advance the study of stories that appear in ancient texts and artefacts. As a test case, we focus on peoples’ perceptions and responses to the depiction of narrative space (setting). To accomplish our aims, we bring together researchers from a variety of disciplines (Classics, Biblical Studies, Art History, Classical Archaeology) and various traditions (Christian, Rabbinic, Islamic, and Buddhist studies), enabling a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural exchange that will open new vistas for understanding the influence of stories.

08.02.2023 - 10.02.2023

Characters in Mind (Bonn Conference 8–10 Feb, 2023)

Literary characters occasionally leave their original story world also to become inhabitants of later narratives and works. The phenomenon itself is well known in literary studies, but so far has not been thoroughly investigated in the context(s) of ancient studies. The conference «Characters in Mind» addresses this very desideratum and, from a cognitive science perspective, explores the motives and cross- religious impacts of character migration.

Organizers: Jan Rüggemeier (Bonn) & Tobias Nicklas (Regensburg)

Speakers: Michal Bar-Asher Siegal (Yale University, USA) – Anna Bonifazi (University of Cologne, Germany) – Stephan Conermann (University of Bonn, Germany) – Evert van Emde Boas (Aarhus University, Denmark) – Jörg Frey (University of Zürich, Switzerland) – Laura Suzanne Lieber (Duke University, USA) – Lara Mührenberg (University of Bonn, Germany) – Tobias Nicklas (University of Regensburg, Germany) – Matthew Novenson (University of Edinburgh, Great Britain) – Magnus Rabel (University of Zürich, Switzerland) – Daniel Rossa (University of Bonn, Germany) – Jan Rüggemeier (University of Bonn, Germany) – Elizabeth Shively (University of St Andrews, Great Britain) – Rina Talgam (Hebrew University, Israel) – Koen De Temmerman (Ghent University, Belgium) – Haim Weiss (Ben Gurion University, Israel)

Public Lecture (Wed, Feb 8, 7pm CET) Livestream (YouTube)
Laura Suzanne Lieber (Duke University, USA):
"In Our Image: The Remaking of Esther in Every Age“

Please register for the conference and public lecture (before January 15th): Lara Mührenberg

The conference is made possible by generous support from the „Fritz Thyssen Foundation“ and "Beyond Canon CRG“


Workshop: Cognitive Strategies for Identifying Viewpoint in Biblical Texts

Sponsored by: Cognitive Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation Section
Workshop: Cognitive Strategies for Identifying Viewpoint in Biblical Texts
Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, 3-6pm | Denver, CO


Cognition & Ancient Character

Diegesis in Mind will host a conversation with Koen De Temmerman (Ghent) and Evert van Emde Boas (Aarhus) discussing cognition and ancient characters and their 2018 volume, Characterization in Ancient Greek Literature (Brill). 1 October, 4PM BST. Streaming on our social media platforms. Join us!

06.09.2022 - 07.09.2022

Blending in Diegesis

Diegesis is typically described as a narrator’s telling a story, in a particular way. The narrator relates the actions and the thoughts of characters. In diegesis, the narrator is always providing only slight prompts for the audience to conceive of a story, and that conception necessarily requires, throughout, on the most basic level, conceptual blending. This talk will review aspects of conceptual blending that are consciously and explicitly put onstage during diegesis. For example, Matthew 21:1-16, the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, narrates the story of the landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. But we know from the introduction to this diegesis that the particular diegetic story is only one input to the understanding: we are to blend the fairness of the landowner with the fairness of Our Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven. Old Testament examples are equally easy to proliferate. 2 Samuel 12:1-7 tells us at the end that the point of the diegesis is a blend. Everyone knows that we are to blend the poor man with Uriah the Hittite, the ewe lamb with Uriah's wife, Bathsheba, and the rich man with David. Such diegetic blends are all-important. But in fact, they are the merest tip of the iceberg. This talk will move on to the incomparably larger range of cases where the indispensable conceptual blending is less obvious. Advanced blending is a basic mental operation for human beings, and it is constant. There would be no diegesis of any kind without it.




Prior to our first livestreaming event with Mark Turner, the SBL International Meeting in Salzburg (July 17–21) provided us with the opportunity to engage with members of our Advisory Board as well as junior scholars in a seminar sponsored by the local planning committee. Our thoroughly transdisciplinary seminar entitled "Cognition and Characters in Ancient Narrative" addressed the question of how to describe and compare processes and effects of reader response to characters in different ancient text corpora. Some statements from our contributors on how Cognitive Disciplines affects and enriches their own work were also recorded during our time together in Austria. (Below you also find a few more impressions from Salzburg ).

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