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Natalie Gerber co-edits issue of Wallace Stevens Journal
Friday, December 04, 2015

Natalie Gerber co-edits issue of Wallace Stevens Journal

Dr. Natalie Gerber

Natalie Gerber, associate professor of English and associate chairperson of the Department of English, co-edited, along with Nicholas Myklebust, assistant professor of English at Regis University in Denver, Colo., the Fall 2015 special issue of the Wallace Stevens Journal, “Stevens and the Cognitive Turn in Literary Studies.”

The issue includes an introduction written by both professors and essays by emerging and well-established scholars in the field of cognitive literary studies, such as Mark Bruhn and G. Gabrielle Starr.

Co-editors design the focus, solicit submissions and then work closely with the authors through several stages of editing and proofreading to arrive at the final copy. Dr. Gerber co-edited the Fall 2014 special issue, “Helen Vandler’s Stevens,” and also edited on her own a 2009 issue, “Wallace Stevens and ‘The Less Legible Meanings of Sound.’”

In the new issue’s introduction, the co-editors ask the crucial question of what cognitive approaches can bring to Stevens scholarship. It is a truism that Stevens is a poet of the mind, but this issue asks what neuroscience, the science of the mind, can bring to complicate and to enrich this belief, Gerber explains.

The fall publication also explores an often under-unexamined area of literary theory, cognitive literary studies.

“The issue demonstrates how well-worn literary conventions such as rhyme and chiasmus can take on new meaning when viewed through a cognitive lens,” Gerber explains. “It also argues how cognitive literary studies can deepen our understanding of Stevens' poems as acts of embodiments of mind.”

Gerber has already drawn on several essays in her current Honors Humanities Seminar: A Poet’s Field Guide to the English Language. Topics that were discussed included the location of acoustically similar sounds in a syllable that can either enhance or interfere with recall. End rhyme enhances the ability to remember the words that contain the rhyme, whereas words involving alliteration can overwrite each other, she explained.

“It is challenging to remember both mat and map but easier to remember mat and cat as any reader of Dr. Seuss can tell you,” Gerber noted.

“I have been dipping my toes into cognitive approaches for several years, and this experience was a great opportunity to learn at length by working with some of the most well-regarded authors in this discipline,” she explained. Gerber also extended appreciation to Myklebust, her co-editor, calling it an “absolute pleasure” to work with him on each individual essay and on the shape of the volume as a whole.

Devoted to all aspects of the poetry and life of American modernist poet Wallace Stevens, the Wallace Stevens Journal is published for the Wallace Stevens Society by Johns Hopkins University Press. A member for more than 10 years, Gerber has been secretary and treasurer of the society since 2011, as well as one of two associate editors.

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