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Growth: Cognitive Linguistics, Psychology, and Adolescent Literature

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Roberta Trites employs theories of cognitive linguistics first advanced by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson to identify the embodied metaphors that govern how adolescent growth is conceptualized within adolescent literature. Trites then analyses the embodied metaphors employed by psychologists, philosophers, poets, novelists, and literary critics in order to show how consistently growth is depicted within the history of ideas. Of particular note is the case of the Bildungsroman, the traditional coming-of-age novel, which has influenced novelists and literary critics alike into privileging specific patterns of growth within fiction so profoundly that growth itself becomes an almost hegemonic force within the field of adolescent literature. Trites thus interrogates how embodiment affects discursive and structural concepts of growth within adolescent fiction, examining the epistemological and ontological implications in terms of cognition and literary theory.

Roberta Seelinger Trites serves as Distinguished Professor of English at Illinois State University. Her books include Waking Sleeping Beauty: Feminist Voices in Children’s Literature; Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature; Twain, Alcott, and the Birth of the Adolescent Reform Novel; and she has a book forthcoming in Benjamins’ Children’s Literature, Cognition, and Culture series: Literary Conceptualisations of Growth in Adolescent Literature.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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