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Supersizing narrative theory: on intention, material agency, and extended mind-workers

Bernini, M.



In recent years, cognitive science has progressively entered the epoch of “4E” cognition,” in which the mind is considered as embedded, enacted, embodied and extended. However, among these second-generation perspectives, the extended mind theory (Clark and Chalmers) seems to have lagged behind in the narratological discourse. According to this view, the human mind extends into the world when coupled with external cognitive tools like computers or material symbols such as language. This article seeks to apply the extended mind theory to the problem of literary intentions by putting the key principles of the theory in relation to the act of narrative worldmaking. In so doing, I suggest that EMT entails a reconsideration of the concept of authorial intentions in that it provides a distributed account of agency during the writing activity. In the last part of the essay I elaborate on the further implications of this reappraisal for literary interpretation.


Bernini, M. (2014). Supersizing narrative theory: on intention, material agency, and extended mind-workers. Style (Fayetteville), 48(3), 349-366.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 10, 2014
Online Publication Date Oct 31, 2014
Publication Date Sep 1, 2014
Deposit Date Feb 6, 2014
Journal Style
Print ISSN 0039-4238
Electronic ISSN 2374-6629
Publisher Penn State University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 3
Pages 349-366
Publisher URL