The matter of the mind: transdisciplinary consciousness in contemporary fiction

Year of award: 2016


  • Natalie Riley

    Durham University

Project summary

My doctoral project focuses on changes in the way the mind was defined in fiction from 1995 to 2014. My study will explore how portrayals of the mind in recent fiction are profoundly engaged with developments in neurosciences. Emerging alongside the increasingly complex scientific research into cognitive function, contemporary fiction demonstrates how our cultural understandings of consciousness are shaped by the interdisciplinary conversation between literature and the neurosciences. 

The aim of my research is to challenge how contemporary literature’s contribution to the medical humanities and sciences is categorised. While acknowledging that narrative literature helps us gain insight into the phenomenological experience of consciousness, my research also shows how literature provides a vital site in which the discourses surrounding ‘mind’ are examined, refuted, and developed and where we can explore and advance the manner in which the mind is framed in contemporary society.