|Associate Professor in Cognitive Literary Studies in the Department of English Studies||Room 007, Hallgarth House||+44 (0) 191 33 43265|
|Research Associate in the Institute for Medical Humanities|
|Associate Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study|
Before taking up my current position, I have been a Marie Curie Junior Research Fellow (2012-2014) and a Wellcome Postdoctoral Research Associate (2014-2018) in the Department of English Studies at Durham University. My first postdoctoral appointment was as a IASH fellow at the University of Edinburgh (2011-2012). I am also a core member of the Wellcome Trust interdisciplinary project on auditory-verbal hallucinations ‘Hearing the Voice' at Durham University (2012-2021). I sit in the Steering Committee of the Institute of Medical Humanities. Outside Durham, I have been a member of a project on 'Narrative and Complex Systems' at the University of York (Interdisciplinary Centre for Narrative Studies) and of the 'History of Distributed Cognition' project (2014-2018; University of Edinburgh). I have been co-leading with Ben Alderson-Day (Department of Psychology, Durham) an interdisciplinary IAS Major Project on 'Dreams, Narrative and Liminal Cognition' in 2020-2022 (Durham University).
My research interests are in narrative theory (in particular cognitive narratology), modernist fiction (notably the narrative work of Samuel Beckett) and cognitive sciences. I have mainly worked on how literary narratives portray or, as I have been arguing, properly explore cognitve processes (e.g., levels of consciousness and self, transparency and opacity in self-knowledge and metacognition, memory, mindwandering, inner speech, moods and emotions, embodied and enactive couplings with the environment, hypnagogic and hypopompic transitions, altered and hallucinatory perceptions, dream states). I also worked on an application of the extended mind view to the relationship between writing and authorial intentionality, and on a narrative approach to cognitive theories of complexity and emergence. I have a forhcoming book on Samuel Beckett and cognition (Beckett and the Cognitive Method: Mind, Models, and Exploratory Narratives) with Oxford University Press.
I would welcome PhD proposals on:
- Narrative Theory
- Cognitive Narratology
- Samuel Beckett
- Literary Modernism
- Cognitive Processes in the Novel
- Narrative and the Self
- Narrative, Emergence and Complexity
- Narrative, Dreams and Hallucinations
Mind and Narrative (Level 3 Special Topic; Designed and Individually Taught)
How can literary narratives represent or explore the mind? To answer this relatively simple question, we need to undertake a quite complex, interdisciplinary journey to understand what the mind is and what it does in its everyday inner, outer, imaginative, embodied, linguistic, intersubjective, emotional, dreamlike experiences and interactions with the real world. This means first becoming familiar with contemporary cognitive scientific models of the mind and of a variety of cognitive processes, before looking at the ways whereby these have been rendered in, and explored by, literary storyworlds. This Special Topic module therefore will take on a parallel journey into the mind by comparing and contrasting cognitive science with theories of narrative. This is the agenda of the emergent field of cognitive literary studies, to which this module can be considered as an advanced introduction.
Narrative and Thresholds of Consciousness (MA level; co-designed and co-taught with Dr Peter Garratt)
Consciousness is not a monolith: it comes in degrees of awareness, agency and control. When we fall asleep or wake up, are tired or in grief, dream or meditate, wander in thoughts or get immersed in a novel, we enter a liminal zone of consciousness and cognition, where we lose some aspect of our self and witness or engage with spontaneous, intrusive, imagistic, phantasmal presences, thoughts and perceptions. Liminal cognition has only recently started to be explored by contemporary cognitive science, whereas it has been widely explored by novelists and writers of short fiction and memoirs. By critically exploring a diverse range of writing from the nineteenth century to the present, this module will assess how literature can enrich, challenge and correct cognitive scientific models of liminality. Texts studied on the module may change from year to year, but they may include works (or extracts of works) by such writers as De Quincey, Brontë, Dickens, George Eliot, George Egerton, Lewis Carroll, Henry James, Woolf, Proust, Beckett, Joyce, Mansfield, Susanna Clarke, Ali Smith, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, Hilary Mantel.
- 2018: Durham Research Staff Awards: Joint first ;prize (together with Ben Alderson-Day, Department of Psychology).
- Bernini, M (2021). Beckett and the Cognitive Method: Mind, Models and Exploratory Narratives. Oxford University Press.
- Bernini, M. & Caracciolo, M. (2013). Letteratura e Scienze Cognitive (‘Literature and Cognitive Sciences’). Roma: Carocci Editore.
Chapter in book
- Bernini, M. (2022). 'Personification as Élanification: Agency Combustion and Narrative Layering in Worlding Perceived Relations'. In Worlding the Brain. Besser, Stephan, Goede, Nim & Lysen, Flora Leiden: Brill.
- Bernini, M. (2022). Reading for Departure: Narrative Theory and Phenomenological Interviews on Hallucinations. In Voices in Psychosis: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Alderson-Day, B., Woods, A. & Fernyhough, C. Oxford University Press.
- Bernini, M (2021). 'A Panting Consciousness: Beckett, Breath and Biocognitive Feedback'. In The Life of Breath, Classical to Contemporary: Literature, Culture, and Medicine. Saunders, C., Fuller, D. & Macnaughton, J. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. 435-459.
- Bernini, M. (2020). 'The Heterocosmic Self: Analogy, Temporality and Structural Couplings in Proust's 'Swann's Way'. In Distributed Cognition in Victorian Culture and Modernism. Anderson, M., Garratt, P. & Sprevak, M. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
- Bernini, M. (2018). 'Narrative and Cognitive Modeling: Insights From Beckett Exploring Mind's Complexity'. In Narrating Complexity. Walsh, R. & Stepney, S. Cham: Springer. 233-251.
- Bernini, M. (2016). The Opacity of Fictional Minds: Transparency, Interpretive Cognition and the Exceptionality Thesis. In The Cognitive Humanities: Embodied Mind in Literature and Culture. Garratt, P. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 35-54.
- Bernini, M. (2014). 'Gression, Regression, and Beyond: A Cognitive Reading of The Unnamable'. In Revisiting Molloy, Malone Meurt / Malone Dies and L'Innommable / The Unnamable (Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd'hui). Tucker, D., Nixon, M. & Van Hulle, D. Amsterdam: Brill/Rodopi. 193-209.
- Bernini, M. & Fernyhough, C. (2022). Resampling (Narrative) Stream of Consciousness: Mind Wandering, Inner Speech, and Reading as Reversed Introspection. Modern Fiction Studies
- Alderson-Day, B., Moffatt, J., Bernini, M., Mitrenga, K., Yao, B. & Fernyhough,C. (2020). 'Processing Speech and Thoughts During Silent Reading: Direct Reference Effects for Speech by Fictional Characters in Voice-Selective Auditory Cortex and a Theory-of-Mind Network. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 32(9): 1637-1653.
- Fernyhough, C., Watson, A., Bernini, M., Moseley, P & Alderson-Day, B. (2019). Imaginary companions, inner speech and auditory verbal hallucinations: What are the relations? Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Science 10: 1665.
- Bernini, M. (2018). Affording Innerscapes: Dreams, Introspective Imagery and the Narrative Exploration of Personal Geographies. Frontiers of Narrative Studies 4(2): 291-311.
- Alderson-Day, B., Bernini, M. & Fernyhough, C. (2017). Uncharted features and dynamics of reading: Voices, characters, and crossing of experiences. Consciousness and Cognition 49: 98-109.
- Bernini, M. (2015). 'Crawling Creating Creatures: On Beckett's Liminal Minds.'. European Journal of English Studies 19(1): 39-54.
- Bernini, M. (2014). Supersizing narrative theory: on intention, material agency, and extended mind-workers. Style 48(3): 349-366.
- Bernini, M. & Woods, A. (2014). 'Interdisciplinarity as Cognitive Integration: Auditory verbal Hallucinations as a Case study'. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science 5(5): 603-612.
- Woods, A., Jones, N., Bernini, M., Callard, F., Alderson-Day, B., Badcock, J., Bell,V., Cook, C., Csordas, T., Humpston, C., Krueger, J., Larøi, F., McCarthy-Jones, S., Moseley, P., Powell, H., Raballo, A., Smailes, D. & Fernyhough, C. (2014). Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Phenomenology of Auditory Verbal Hallucinations. Schizophrenia Bulletin 40(Suppl 4): S246-S254.
- Kruger, J., Bernini, M. & Wilkinson, S. (2014). Introspection, isolation, and construction: Mentality as activity. Commentary on Hurlburt, Heavey & Kelsey (2013). “Toward a phenomenology of inner speaking”. Consciousness and Cognition 25: 9-10.
- Bernini, M. (2012). ‘Blueprints for Worldshaking: Worlds, Consciousnesses and Paratext in "L’Adalgisa".'. Edinburgh Journal of Gadda Studies 7(11).
- Bernini, M. (2011). 'Manifestare Territori Acustici: Il Personaggio in Gadda, Bachtin, Deleuze'. Edinburgh Journal of Gadda Studies (7).
- Bernini, M. (2014). 'Samuel Beckett's Articulation of Unceasing Inner Speech'. Guardian