Puppets, Ingenuity and the Arts of Cognition

1 March 2019, 17:00 - 18:30

Trinity Hall Lecture Theatre

All are welcome and admission is free. As seating is limited, please arrive early to avoid disappointment. 



Terence Cave (University of Oxford)

Stephen Mottram (Puppeteer)



Renowned puppeteer Stephen Mottram performs and discusses his craft in conversation with Terence Cave (Emeritus Professor of French, University of Oxford, author of the recent Thinking with Literature: Towards a Cognitive Criticism). The focus of the evening will be ingenuity: that of the puppeteer’s art in exploiting the way viewers impute an inner life to inanimate objects. What are the minimal components or ‘vital signs’ that compel us to think that a piece of wood or cloth, or even a collection of light points, is ‘alive’? How has this ingenious practice been discussed throughout history, and how might it relate to the production of other forms of, say, literary and visual illusion? This performance and discussion will be of interest to scholars in – among others fields – literary studies, art history, the history of science, philosophy of mind, and cognitive psychology.



This event is part of the ERC-funded project Genius before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science. For any questions connected to the event, please contact Dr Timothy Chesters (Senior Researcher) here.



Funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ ERC grant agreement no 617391.