While the book is not meant to be read as a monograph but as a dictionary, many well-versed readers will be tempted to do so anyway, so rich and lush are both language and litany.
... the database behind the book lets one investigate the verb, instance by instance. The book itself provides a bird’s eye view of its large terrain, and the reader can easily settle on specific images to investigate in the hundred pages of detailed endnotes.
... Metaphors of Mind belongs on the shelf of every student of eighteenth-century literature and culture, those interested in the history of cognition, and scholars working in and through novel approaches to history. No doubt we will be discussing this work for some time.
Metaphors of Mind is a genuinely significant book. An exciting and stimulating read, it promises to precipitate and augment important conversations both in eighteenth-century literary studies and in the field of digital humanities more broadly.
Pasanek has produced a kind of distant-reading-by-hand, combining scale and literary sensitivity by dint of hard, thoughtful work. Many scholars use search technology, but few have done it as self-consciously as Pasanek. Metaphors of Mind will be important both because of its concrete historical contributions, and because it theorizes a hermeneutic process that humanists already use unreflectively.
Metaphors of Mind is one of the truly major works of literary historical scholarship of the early 21st century. Not only is the book brilliantly conceived, groundbreaking, and significant, but it is also on the cutting edge of the digital technologies that scholars are so rapidly embracing. Pasanek’s book is a work of profoundly engaging erudition, performing all the functions of investigation and criticism apparently effortlessly. The manuscript is beautifully written, extremely lucid and free of jargon, and downright funny.
Metaphors of Mind is one of the most compelling blends of traditional literary critical methods and the new digital humanities/data mining projects that literary studies has seen to date. With welcome clarity and disarming humor, Pasanek provides an eye-opening survey, peppered with vivid examples, of the countless ways in which eighteenth-century Anglo-American culture imagined perception and personal identity. I feel confident predicting that in the years to come Metaphors of Mind will be frequently cited, quarried, and emulated by historians, psychologists, philosophers, as well as literary critics.
Self-avowedly experimental, this book both transforms the form of the scholarly monograph and provides its best defense, all in the most understated – almost surreptitious – way. Pasanek's Metaphors of Mind constitutes a major intervention in eighteenth-century studies, but it is crucial reading in the field of media studies as well.
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