Literature and the brain

13.10.15
On the evening of November 13th, Authors in Aarhus will have the immense pleasure of hosting at Dokk1 one of its most exciting events yet: The world-renowned author A.S Byatt and the internationally recognized brain scientist Morten Kringlebach.

Tickets for the event

The international author scene will be presenting the celebrated and internationally renowned British author, A. S Byatt, who for the occasion will be in discussion with the notorious Professor Morten L Kringelbach, Senior Research Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science at Queen’s College, Oxford University, and professor at Aarhus University. Kringelbach is interested in the brain mechanisms of pleasure, and his research explores fields such as emotional development, affective disorders, and empathy.

A. S Byatt’s outstanding writing career covers over fifty years of English literary history. She has written twelve novels, some of which are the Booker Prize-winning Possession: A Romance, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman. Her novel The Children’s Book, published in 2009, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She is the author of several highly acclaimed short story collections, such as Sugar and Other Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, or Little Black Book of Stories. She is also known for her essays and critical studies, as for instance those of her old friend Iris Murdoch. Authors in Aarhus is honoured to welcome one of Britain’s most important contemporary authors to the library.

At first glance, it may seem incongruous that a renowned writer should be discussing her literary works with a brain researcher. But in reality, claiming that there are bridges between science and art is anything but a farfetched statement, as Kringelbach explains himself when praising Byatt’s Children’s Book; he says one of the key characteristics of novels is that they are centered on emotion: “If they are not about something that moves us then we stop reading them. It does take a long time to tell a story. You have to get intimate with the character, you have to get inside of their heads. Novels teach us about empathy. You empathize with the characters, you see that what they’re telling you is something you could perhaps learn from.”


The event will emphasize these pathways that can be made from literature to science. The discussion will provide an enlightening view on the essential function literature has in understanding ourselves through another’s perspective; but also on how our neurological responses to reading fiction help brain researchers dig deeper into understanding the way our emotional mechanisms operate.

The evening promises to be an exciting and insightful journey into understanding the human heart and mind. All science lovers and literature lovers are welcome to attend!

If you want to read more about Byatt NY Times have published an article about her here.

Tickets for the event

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