The Mimetic Dimension: Literature Between Neuroscience and Phenomenology

Jennifer Gosetti-Ferencei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
263 Downloads (Pure)


When we are most immersed in literary reading, and when that immersion is most significant, we may experience a literary work as constitutive of a ‘world’. With reference to the phenomenological tradition, it can be shown how this world is both a novel creation and serves to disclose, not least by shifting our perspective from, the world of ordinary experience. In this light, it will be shown how the problem of mimesis poses a challenge for recent neuroscientific approaches to literature. At the same time, neuroscientific findings show the insufficiency of phenomenological accounts which fail to acknowledge the physiological and cognitive processes that underlie literary imagining. I introduce the notion of the ‘mimetic dimension’ in order to clarify what accounts based on phenomenology and neuroscience can and cannot explain about literary mimesis and the experience of a literary world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-448
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Aesthetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

The penultimate version here was 14000 words and had to be cut to 12000 words for the journal publication.


  • Mimesis
  • Literature
  • Neuroscience
  • Phenomenology
  • phenomenology
  • neuroscience
  • mimesis
  • literature
  • cognitive literary studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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