French Professor Nelly Kupper was awarded sabbatical leave for the 2013-14 academic year. Dr. Kupper will conduct research in both the U.S. and France on the intersection between literature and neuroscience. A more thorough description of her research project is described below.
My sabbatical year will be taken up with a research project that I hope will lead to a publication of a book. The book will expand upon work initiated in three papers and will allow me to present the unifying factor, or the large idea that generated the three different sub-topics of the three research projects. Of interest to me in particular is neuroscience and memory processing. The field of literary scholarship is just starting to examine the intersection between literature and science, more specifically neuroscience. Applying the observations of the functions of the human brain to literary criticism is a new and exciting area, generating a lot of interest in literary scholarship. The overlap between the research in brain science and fictional works has been a focus of study for me for a number of years. The three papers noted above, one of which has been published in Orbis Litterarum, represent some of my work on the point of intersection between science and fiction.
I am looking forward to a substantial amount of research ahead in the two semesters. Some of the research could be done from NMU and interlibrary loan, especially in updating the research on the science data. I know, however, from my previous work on this material that travel to France will be necessary. My intention is to unify the principal focus of the three papers to lead the research to the big idea, namely to demonstrate the significance of remembering and forgetting in fiction, but though a new and provocative perspective, provided by neuroscience. I intend to start with the archetypal plots, such as in mythology and biblical stories, so as to establish the presence of the intersection of science and fiction in the prototype plot, and the function of forgetfulness in the prototype male characters. I will then extent the argument to show that the same formula of forgetfulness operates in modern fiction. Then I will argue that forgetfulness and remembering also operate in contemporary works. My final step will be to explain the necessity for the forces of remembering and forgetting as demonstrated in science, and suggest the function that the role of forgetting and remembering may represent in fiction, which ultimately reflects human nature, which is necessarily linked to science.