Imagination Workshop
June 22-24, 2007

Board Room, Stanford Humanities Center


Friday, June 22, 2-5 p.m.
The imagination as faculty. 
Is the imagination a capacity for simulating; for making connections among ideas; for representing what is not present; or something else entirely?

Session leader: Blakey Vermeule (English, Stanford)

Saturday June 23, 10-1 p.m.
Metaphor and irony. 
What is the role of the imagination in our experience of metaphors?  (Are they, for example, miniature games of make-believe?) How is the potentially endless series of metaphorical connections brought to an end?  What mental activity is involved in the identification and rectification of irony (“filling the gaps”)?   For both irony and metaphor, what is the function of the required acts of imagination in our mental life?

Session leader: Eileen John (Philosophy and Literature, Warwick)

1-2 p.m. Lunch break

Saturday June 23, 2-5 p.m.
The imagination in response to fiction. 
Is fiction a prop for make-believe? What is the role of the para-narrative, a.k.a. “side-shadowing,” in the experience of fiction?  Should literary make-believe be considered a simulation of real-world activity?

Session leader: G. Saul Morson (Slavic, Northwestern)

Sunday June 24, 10-1 p.m.
Empathy and “imaginative resistance.” 

How does empathy work?  Are there limits to its functioning?  Is it necessarily desirable?  Does literary empathy strengthen (or even enable) real-world empathy? Are there cases where readers/viewers are reluctant to imagine certain things?  If so, are we talking mainly about morally repugnant events?

Session leader: Daniel Jacobson (Philosophy, Bowling Green)

Sponsored by the DLCLAesthetics Workshop, and by the Stanford Humanities Center.

For bios of all session leaders, click here.

For recommended readings, click here.

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