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Call for Papers

Reading Minds: Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks and the Reading Human

SLSA 2022, Purdue University

The Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA) invites submissions for its 35th annual meeting which will take place October 6-9, 2022 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Center for NeuroHumanities in the School of Languages and Cultures and co-sponsors will host SLSA 2022 as an on-site conference (subject to future guidelines relating to evolving concerns with COVID-19). For Purdue University’s response to the pandemic, please refer to for updates.

Engaging scholars of literature, science and the arts in questions pertaining to the nature of reading inevitably suggests new lines of enquiry which extend beyond disciplinary fields, and reach to apprehend the “grand challenges” of the twenty-first century. Historically, the definition of reading has been narrowly defined as a human mind deciphering text, as written traditions of communication replaced the oral. With machine learning, natural language processing, and imaging, both the understanding of “reading” and “mind” are in flux. Over the course of the pandemic, the pivot to remote work and social distancing have led to an augmented virtual experience with the attendant consequences of new patterns of reading and an accumulation of data from that engagement.

We seek papers, panels, workshops, and creative work that might address the following concerns, broadly defined:

   *   Artifacts of reading: print and digital

   *   The embodied mind problematized from the perspective of AI

   *   Natural language processing, especially machine translation and natural language generation.

   *   Neuro networks: human, animal and other organisms

   *   Data mining and data mine analysis

   *   Imaging and reading images, especially reading images of the brain / mind

   *   Cognitive processes of reading, and how they relate to the construction of meaning

   *   Theory of Mind in relation to reading, data mining and algorithms

   *   Empathy, and its simulation, through cognitive and affective lenses

   *   Creativity and computer-assisted processing and generation of art and literature

   *   Critical discourse in academia in the context of increasingly sophisticated algorithmic reading, the digital humanities: future directions and caveats

Papers/panels on all SLSA-related topics are also welcome.


We invite proposals for:

  *       individual papers, posters and pre-organized panels

  *       workshops, roundtables, arts lounges, and social networking events

  *       creative work

The submission deadline for abstracts is April 22, 2022. Information about how to submit your abstract will be available soon.

Participants in SLSA 2022 must be current members of SLSA. For membership inscription, please refer to the society’s website.

For updates and further information, as it becomes available, please see the conference website: Questions may be sent to<>.

Conference attendees will be able to book accommodation at the newly renovated on-campus Union Club Hotel, where a block of rooms is reserved: In addition, there are a number of other options for accommodation, both in West Lafayette and Lafayette. For conference participants arriving by air, the closest airport is IND (Indianapolis). Information about accommodation and travel will be posted to the conference website in the coming weeks.


Fall 2019 Events

Below is a summary of the events for the Fall 2019 semester. For previous events, please click here.


Measuring the Impact of Narrative, Humanities and the Arts

On November 12th, The Center for the NeuroHumanities held a colloquium, "Measuring the Impact of Narrative, Humanities, and the Arts: A Showcase of Current Research at Purdue." The colloquium brought together people from different departments in order to discuss some of the most recent research in NeuroHumanities. Afterwards, participants and attendees alike enjoyed refreshments in the newly remodeled media center in Stanley Coulter 220. Presentations included:  


Cognition, Narrative, and the Human Reader

Paula Leverage, School of Languages and Cultures 

Reading narrative text recruits the multiple cognitive processes of everyday human interaction with the environment, but with variation in the weighting assigned to each. By isolating and analyzing individual processes, we advance understanding of how, and why, narrative engages human cognition, and the implications for its functionality in society.


Measuring Fear in the Reader’s Mind and the Effects of Language Translation

Dan Foti, Psychological Sciences, and Clotilde Landais, School of Languages and Cultures

Drawing upon methods from affective neuroscience, we examine how the brain processes horror fiction in real time in order to measure the level of fear the subjects experience when reading horror fiction. We wish to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies implemented by the authors of such fiction and to find out if the nature or the level of fear vary according to the language of reading (native or second language, original or translation).


Students’ Empathy and Flash Fiction in Spanish

Tyler Gabbard-Rocha, School of Languages and Cultures

An increasing amount of research in the neurohumanities indicates that there is a correlation between having read literary fiction and holding more pro-social, egalitarian, and empathetic world views – some argue that this is because fiction provides a sort of mental training ground for our mind where we can practice and develop our empathetic abilities. However, this research is often limited to a correlational conclusion, but does not explain how or why: are empathetic people more likely to read, or does reading actually cause an increase in empathetic abilities? My research looks at the development of empathy in undergraduate students in an Introduction to Hispanic Literature course.


Measuring the Magic of Theatre

Amanda Mayes, Office of the Vice Provost for Student Life, and CLA Cornerstone

Theatre is magical. For a few hours, we sit down and are completely immersed into a different world. The performances we see promote connections with the actors on stage and fellow audience members. Theatre transports us to different places and times and introduces us to unique perspectives. Those of us who love live performance believe in the magic of theatre. But how do we convince others? This presentation will highlight research demonstrating the measurable benefits of live performances.


Humanities and Human Flourishing: Conceptual Development and Assessment 

Louis Tay, Psychological Sciences

I will be presenting empirical work from the Humanities and Human Flourishing project led by Dr. James Pawelski at Penn. We developed a conceptual framework describing the possible psychological mechanisms (RAISE: reflection, acquisition, immersion, socialization, and expressiveness) by which the arts and humanities may lead to human flourishing. New measures for these psychological mechanisms are being developed and will be rolled out as a toolkit.