Promises & Threats
When the US government declared the 1990s “The decade of the brain”, it aimed at raising public awareness toward the use of neuroscience for the enhancement of life quality and as a way to better address the challenges of growing life expectancy. The initiative was further supported by substantial research funding, which not only impressed public opinion but appealed to many research fields. Finding a link to brain research and the processes of the human mind, many disciplines were repositioned and adopted the “neuro” prefix, promising new insights into age-old problems by reframing them from the angle of the brain-mind continuum.
Neuroscience seeks to explain how the brain works and which neurophysiological processes are involved in complex cognitive abilities like sensation and perception attention and reasoning, memory and thought.
One of the most striking and unique features of the human mind is its capacity to represent realities that transcend its immediate time and space, by engaging complex symbolic systems, most notably language, music, arts and mathematics. Such sophisticated means for representation are arguably the result of an environmental pressure and must be accounted for in a complex network of shared behaviors, mimetic actions and collaborative practices: in other words, through human culture. The cultural products that are enabled by these systems are also stored by means of representation in ever-new technological devices, which allow for the accumulation and sharing of knowledge beyond space and across time.
The artifacts and practices that arise from the symbolic use, exchange and accumulation are the core of the research and academic field known as the Humanities. The field has been increasingly interested in the latest developments deriving from neuroscience and the affordances they allow about the conditions and processes of the single brain, embedded in an environment, in permanent exchange with other brains in an ecology that is culturally coded.
This turn of the humanities to neuroscience is embraced by many and fiercely criticized by others. The promise of the Neurohumanities, the neuroscientifically informed study of cultural artifacts, discourses and practices, lies in unveiling the link between embodied processes and the sophistication of culture. And it has the somewhat hidden agenda of legitimizing the field, by giving it a science-close status of relevance and social acknowledgement it has long lacked. Here, though, lies also its weakness: should the Humanities become scientific? Can they afford to do so? Should they be reduced to experimental methodologies, collaborative research practices, sloppy concept travelling, transvestite interdisciplinarity? Is the promise of the Neurohumanities, seen by some as the ultimate overcoming of the science-humanities or the two cultures divide, in fact not only ontologically and methodologically impossible and more than that undesirable? And how will fields like Neuroaesthetics, Cognitive Literary Theory, Cognitive Linguistics, Affect Theory, Second-person Neuroscience, Cognitive Culture Studies or Critical Neuroscience relate to the emerging omnipresence and challenges of Artificial Intelligence?
The IX Summer School for the Study of Culture invites participants to submit paper and poster proposals that critically consider the developments of the Neurohumanities in the past decades and question its immediate and future challenges and opportunities. Paper proposals are encouraged in but not limited to the following topics:
·4E Cognition: embodied, embedded, enacted and extended
·performance and the embodied mind
·spectatorship and simulation
·from individual to social cognition
·memory, culture and cultural memory
·cognition and translatability
·(neuro)humanities and social change
·AI, cognition and culture
The Summer School will take place at several cultural institutions in Lisbon and will gather outstanding doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers from around the world. In the morning there will be lectures and master classes by invited keynote speakers. In the afternoon there will be paper presentations by doctoral students.
Proposals should be sent to no later than February 28, 2019 and include paper title, abstract in English (max. 200 words), name, e-mail address, institutional affiliation and a brief bio (max. 100 words) mentioning ongoing research.
Applicants will be informed of the result of their submissions by March 15, 2019.
The organizing committee shall place presenters in small groups according to the research focus of their papers. They are advised to stay in these groups for the duration of the Summer School, so a structured exchange of ideas may be developed to its full potential.
The papers will then be circulated amongst the members of each research group and in the slot allotted to each participant (30’), only 10’ may be used for a brief summary of the research piece. The Summer School is a place of networked exchange of ideas and organizers wish to have as much time as possible for a structured discussion between participants. Ideally, in each slot, 10’ will be used for presentation, and 20’ for discussion.
Participants with paper – 290€ for the entire week (includes lectures, master classes, doctoral sessions, lunches and closing dinner)
Participants without paper – 60€ per session/day | 190€ for the entire week
For The Lisbon Consortium students, there is no registration fee.
For students from Universities affiliated with the European Summer School in Cultural Studies and members of the Excellence Network in Cultural Studies the registration fee is 60€.
·Isabel Capeloa Gil
·Paulo de Campos Pinto