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Neuronarratives of Affliction: Revisiting Embodied Cognition and Corporeality in Lisa Genova's Left Neglected



In analyzing Lisa Genova's novel Left Neglected as an epitome of neuronarratives, this paper explores the intersections of literary studies and cognitive neuroscience. As both a novelist and neuroscientist, Lisa Genova adeptly amalgamates her comprehension of the human brain's functionality with her ability to render individual experiences and subjective perceptions of brain injury or malady. In Left Neglected, the main character Sarah Nickerson experiences an unanticipated accident and subsequently grapples with "hemispatial neglect" or "left neglect," engendered by injury to the right hemisphere of her brain. Sarah endures the ramifications of attention deficit and labors to acknowledge the left sides of her body, her space, and her encompassing environment, thereby radically altering her perceptions of reality in quotidian life. This article scrutinizes the novel through the lens of the phenomenology of illness, accentuating the notions of spatial bodily awareness, absence in presence, and corporeality. By probing into Sarah's endeavors to acclimate to her constraints and reconfigure her relationship with her body and surroundings, the novel offers a glimpse into the experiences of women afflicted with illnesses and disabilities within the context of gender norms in the mainstream society. Furthermore, this article investigates individuals' potential for cultivating a reconstituted subjectivity with limited capacity. Drawing upon insights from cognitive neuroscience and literary studies, this research aspires to furnish an intricate analysis of how the novel delineates the complexities of the human mind and body when confronted with adversity.

Parallel abstracts

從文學的角度而言,書寫本身即是心智運作的極致表現,近年來,隨著神經科學的發展,書寫的內容重新探究大腦功能如何影響或改變人類所認知外在世界的「真實」。莉莎.潔諾娃兼具小說創作者與神經科學學者的雙重角色,她的《被忽略的左側》巧妙地以一位大腦損傷的個體為主角,結合神經認知功能的理解,串聯成一特殊的生命敘事。主角莎拉因意外事件右腦嚴重受損,造成「左側忽略」(left neglect)後遺症。就內在感知而言,患者無法反射性地知覺到自己身體左側的感官經驗;就外在感知而言,亦無法察覺到中央視野左側的人事物之存在。透過文學性的再現,此作品關注體現認知(embodied cognition)、身體感(corporeality)、自我與他者的關係、可見與不可見、再現與忽略、可得與不可得等議題之哲學層次思考。本文將《被忽略的左側》作為神經學敘事的縮影,以身體知覺與主體意識為媒介,探索文學研究和認知神經科學跨領域匯流的可能性。以疾病現象學的視角審視這部小說,強調身體的空間意識、在場中的缺席(absence in presence)與關係性主體意識等概念,探究主體如何適應身體限制,重新調和身體和周圍環境的關係,以及重新建構主體性的可能。


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