Why Jane Austen was different, and why we may need cognitive science to see it

Lisa Zunshine

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Taking as my starting point George Butte's reintroduction of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's discourse on phenomenology into contemporary literary and film studies, I Know That You Know That I Know: Narrating Subjects from Moll Flanders to Marnie (2004), I demonstrate how we can complement his innovative analysis of "deep intersubjectivity" in Austen with recent research from cognitive psychology. Specifically, I draw on studies in Theory of Mind that deal with the ways we process multiply-embedded subjectivities (along the lines of "I know that he wants her to think that she believes that . . ."). As I analyze several examples of such multiply-embedded subjectivity in Etherege, Hume, Richardson, Sterne, and Austen, my larger question is, whether aided by research in Theory of Mind, a literary critic might be compelled to consider issues that she would not have otherwise and trace new connections between different cultural discourses of the late seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-299
Number of pages25
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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