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Elements of Surprise: Our Mental Limits and the Satisfaction of Plot

by Kelvin Smith Library

Lecture Library Event Literature

Fri, 03 Apr 2020

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

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Kelvin Smith Library, Dampeer Room- 2nd Floor

11055 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States

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Writers, filmmakers, playwrights and other storytellers know just as well as cognitive scientists do that all of us have biases and blind spots in the way we make sense of the world. Stories can take advantage of these tendencies to construct delightful and reliable twists and turns. But surprise twists are also risky in a special kind of way. When the sleight of hand falls flat, audiences often don’t just feel disappointed. They feel duped or lied to. When stories of a certain sort seem to tell us one thing, then turn around and tell us something else, the question of what is really “true” in this fiction suddenly becomes very important. This talk will look at the perils, delights, and anxieties of surprise endings in novels and films, and what they reveal about the complex relationship between our cognitive abilities, "bad cognition," and our ongoing search for meaning and truth.

Speaker:
Vera Tobin is an associate professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University. Her work looks at cognitive bias, viewpoint in language, the problems of cooperation, and questions about how literature and film engage our social cognition. Her first book, Elements of Surprise, was published in spring 2018 by Harvard University Press.
Food Provided (Light refreshments)



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Kelvin Smith Library, Dampeer Room- 2nd Floor

11055 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States

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Kelvin Smith Library | Website | View More Events

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