Tim Yaczo is Docent in Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam and coordinates the MA program in Comparative Literature. He teaches in the Cultural Analysis bachelor, master's, and research master's programs in addition to teaching rhetoric at the PPLE college.
"Brains with Character: Reading and Writing Neuronarrative" tracks the concept of neuronarrative by analyzing the reciprocal and catalytic relationships between neuroscience and literary media. Crucial to understanding the contemporary stakes in these two cultural endeavors is how their relationships implicate ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ as concepts, operations, and activities. From the protagonist struggling with a brain tumor, to the villain who one comes to discover acts out of a neurochemical imbalance, stories play out cultural, technological, and highly personal excitements and anxieties about the place and importance of brain knowledge today. They invite new literacies of readers, by demanding one learns from the vocabulary of scanning machines and the latest anatomies, as well as encouraging one to think through and with accounts of everyday life that centralize the significance of brain activity.
Five objects help me encounter the concept of neuronarrative and productively destabilize it beyond the frame of genre: two fictional novels, each about a damaged brain in some way; a scientific report about a University of Iowa experiment involving the location of fear in the brain; a popular science book intended for school administrators and teachers to alter their classrooms according to brain science; and finally, a short story written on Twitter that encourages one to experience each tweet as the recorded mental thoughts of the protagonist.