Tuesday, September 27, 2005

metaphor in Strauss/Quinn

First, an apologia for this post, on which my full mental powers have not been brought to bear (I am busy thinking through a paper due tomorrow for another class).

I was especially drawn to Naomi Quinn's chapter on culturally shared metaphors; she critiques the prevailing model, which "understates the variability in the use of metaphors while overstating their role in constructing understanding" (141). Rather than assigning value to the metaphors themselves, she is interested in metaphors as "clues to the cultural schemas that underlie them" (144). I was wondering how, if at all, her approach might be relevant to the prominent role that metaphor plays in a lot of "literature and science" criticism, as an example of the shared culture that serves as a "feedback loop" between literature and science (e.g., Laura Otis looks at shared metaphors of webs and networks in 19th century neuroscience and in novels such as MIDDLEMARCH, as reflective of technological innovations that linked communities, such as the railroad and the telegraph).

Does anyone have thoughts on Quinn's case study on metaphor, either as it relates to literature-science criticism or more generally? (Perhaps I'll respond to my own post when I have more time to think about it.)

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