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Lisa Zunshine

Research Interests:
Cognitive Science and Literary Studies
Comparative Literature
Eighteenth Century British Literature

Fall 2023-Spring 2024: on leave (Berlin, Germany)


Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara, 2000


Lisa Zunshine is Professor of English at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, a former Guggenheim fellow (2007) and the author or editor of thirteen books, including Bastards and Foundlings: Illegitimacy in Eighteenth-Century England (2005), Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel (2006), Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Samuel Richardson (co-edited with Jocelyn Harris, 2006), Strange Concepts and the Stories They Make Possible: Cognition, Culture, Narrative (2008), Acting Theory and the English Stage (2009),  Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies (ed., 2010), Approaches to Teaching the Works of John Dryden (co-edited with Jayne Lewis, 2013), Getting Inside Your Head: What Cognitive Science Can Tell Us about Popular Culture (2012), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Literary Studies (2015), and The Secret Life of Literature (2022).



August 2023: The Secret Life of Literature has been shortlisted for 2023 Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award


Selected Publications:





Embodied Social Cognition and Comparative Literature: an Introduction." Poetics Today 41.2 (2020): 171-86 (pdf)

Who Is He To Speak of My Sorrow?” Poetics Today 41.2 (2020), 223-42 (pdf)


"What Mary Poppins Knew: Theory of Mind, Children's Literature, History." Narrative 27.1 (2019): 1-29 (external link to full essay)

"Bakhtin, Theory of Mind, and Pedagogy: Cognitive Construction of Social Class.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 30.1 (2017): 109-26 (external link to full essay)

"The Commotion of Souls," SubStance, # 140, 45. 2 (2016): 118-142 (external link to full essay)

"The Secret Life of Fiction." PMLA 130.3 (May 2015): 724-731 (pdf)

"Theory of Mind as a Pedagogical Tool." Interdisciplinary Literary Studies 16.1 (2014): 89-109 (pdf)

Co-authored with Ralph James Savarese: “The Critic as Neurocosmopolite; Or, What Cognitive Approaches to Literature Can Learn from Disability Studies: Lisa Zunshine in Conversation with Ralph James Savarese.” Narrative 22.1 (January 2014): 17-44 (pdf)

"From the Social to the Literary: Approaching Cao Xueqin's The Story of the Stone (紅樓夢) from a Cognitive Perspective." In The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Approaches to Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 176-196. (pdf)

"Introduction to Cognitive Literary Studies." In The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Literary Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 1-9 (pdf)

"Sociocognitive Complexity." NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 45.1 (2012): 13-18 (pdf)

“What to Expect When You Pick Up a Graphic Novel.” SubStance: special issue on graphic narratives. Ed. Jared Gardner and David Herman, # 124, 40.1 (2011): 114-134 (pdf)

“Style Brings In Mental States.” Style 45.2 (2011): 349-356 (pdf)

“Cognitive Alternatives to Interiority.” Cambridge History of the English Novel. Ed. Robert L. Caserio and Clement C. Hawes. Cambridge University Press, 2011. 147-162

“Mind Plus: Sociocognitive Pleasures of Jane Austen's Novels.Studies in Literary Imagination 42.2 (Fall 2009): 89-109 (pdf)

 “1700-1775: Theory of Mind, Social Hierarchy, and the Emergence of Narrative Subjectivity.” The Emergence of Mind: Representations of Consciousness in Narrative Discourse in English. Ed. David Herman. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011. 161-186 (pdf)

 “Theory of Mind and Fictions of Embodied Transparency.” Narrative 16.1 (2008): 65-92 (pdf)

 “Theory of Mind and Michael Fried’s Absorption and Theatricality: Notes Toward Cognitive Historicism.” Toward a Theory of Narrative Acts. Ed. Frederick Aldama. University of Texas Press, 2010. 179-203 (pdf)

“Lying Bodies of the Enlightenment: Theory of Mind and Cultural Historicism.” Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. 115-133 (pdf)

“What is Cognitive Cultural Studies?”Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010 1-33 (pdf)

 “Why Jane Austen Was Different, And Why We May Need Cognitive Science to See It.” Style 41.3 (2007): 273-297 (pdf)
           Reprinted inREALYearbook of Research in English and American Literature24 (2008):141-61

 “Caught Unawares by a Benefactor: Embodying the Deserving Object of Charity in the Eighteenth-Century Novel.” The Eighteenth-Century Novel 5 (2006): 37-65 (pdf)

 “Essentialism and Comedy: A Cognitive Reading of the Motif of Mislaid Identity in Dryden’s Amphitryon (1690),” Performance and Cognition: Theatre in the Age of New Cognitive Studies. Ed. Bruce McConachie and F. Elizabeth Hart. Routledge, 2006. 97-121

“Introduction.” Philanthropy and Fiction, 1698-1818. London: Pickering and Chatto, 2006. vii-xxi (pdf)

“Can We Teach the ‘Deep Intersubjectivity’ of Richardson’s Clarissa?” New Windows on a Woman's World: A Festschrift for Jocelyn Harris. Otago Studies in English, 9. Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago, 2005. 88-99 (pdf)

“The Spectral Hospital: Philanthropy and the Eighteenth-Century Novel.” Eighteenth-Century Life, 29.1 (2005), 1-22 (pdf)

 “Teaching Sir Charles Grandison to Undergraduates instead of Pamela,” Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Samuel Richardson. Ed. Zunshine and Harris. New York: Modern Language Association, 2005. 184-190 (pdf)

“Introduction” and “Materials,” Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Samuel Richardson. Ed. Zunshine and Harris. New York: Modern Language Association, 2005. xi-xiii, 3-23 (pdf)

 “Bastard Daughters and Foundling Heroines: Rewriting Illegitimacy for the Eighteenth-Century Stage,” Modern Philology 102.4 (2005): 501-533 (pdf)

 “Richardson’s Clarissa and a Theory of Mind,” The Work of Fiction: Cognition, Culture, and Complexity. Ed. Alan Richardson and Ellen Spolsky. Ashgate Press, 2004. 127-146

“Theory of Mind and Experimental Representations of Fictional Consciousness,” Narrative 11.3 (2003): 270-291 (pdf)
           Reprinted in The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Ed. David H. Richter, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006
           Translated into Russian and reprinted in Dialogue so Vremenem: Almanac of Intellectual History. Moscow: KomKniga. 15 (2005): 263-292

“Vladimir Nabokov and the Scriblerians,” Nabokov at Cornell. Ed. Gavriel Shapiro. Cornell University Press, 2003. 161-71(pdf)

 “The Gender Dynamics of the Infanticide Prevention Campaign in Eighteenth-Century England and Richardson’s History of Sir Charles Grandison,” Writing English Infanticide: Child-Murder, Gender, and Print, 1722-1859. Ed.Jennifer Thorn. Newark: The University of Delaware Press, 2003. 145-171 (pdf)

 “Eighteenth-Century Print Culture and the ‘Truth’ of Fictional Narrative,” Philosophy and Literature, 25.2 (2001): 215-232 (pdf)

“Rhetoric, Cognition, and Ideology in Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s 1781 Hymns in Prose for Children,” Poetics Today, 23.1 (2001): 231- 259 (pdf)

“The Politics of Eschatological Prophesy and Dryden’s 1700 The Secular Masque.” The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, vol. 41.3 (2000): 119-137 (pdf)

 “Nabokov’s ‘On Discovering a Butterfly’ and Pushkin’s ‘Exegi monumentum,’” The Nabokovian (2000): 38-42

“Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and VladimirNabokov’s Pale Fire”, Nabokov at the Limits: Redrawing Critical Boundaries. New York: Garland Publishing, 1999. 161-82 (pdf)



External Links:


Suzanne Keen's advice on applying to graduate schools

Alan Richardson's notes on proposing and giving conference papers

John Richetti reads Pope and Swift on PennSound

Molly Worthen's rules of academic etiquette