The Trickster Brain

The Trickster Brain : Neuroscience, Evolution, and Narrative

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The Trickster Brain: Neuroscience, Evolution, and Nature by David Williams looks at literature from an evolutionary, biological, and neurological perspective. He uses the Trickster character as he/she appears across cultures to demonstrate how stories reveal universal aspects of the biological mind. Williams brings together science and the humanities, demonstrating a critical way of approaching literature that incorporates scientific thought.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 314 pages
  • 152.4 x 223.52 x 30.48mm | 657.71g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739143972
  • 9780739143971

Table of contents

Introduction Chapter 1: Searching for Trickster Chapter 2: The Silver Tongued Devil Archetypes Where is Science in the Study of Literature? Universal Human Nature Textual Authority vs. Empirical Evidence How Did Language Begin? Chomsky Schema Theory Chapter 3: The Tricksterish Brain Chapter 4: Evolution Chapter 5: The Brain of Sex Sex, Disease, and Competition Displays The Sexiest Animals Ornamental Mind Chapter 6: The Brain of Love and War Sexual Selection and Altruism Monogamy? Women and War Civilization and Enslavement of Women Why Love? The Power of Love: Women's Songs of Love from Afghanistan Chapter 7: The Brain of Song Music and Language-Common Roots Two Camps Why Did Music and Language Split? Music and Food Sexual Selection for Music Tribal Songs for Every Aspect of Life Chapter 8: Ethics The Falacy of the Naturalistic Fallacy: Is-Ought Fairness and Justice in the Animal World Chapter 9: Storytelling and the Theory of Mind Unconsciousness & Consciousness Theory of Mind Chapter 10: The Brain of God Potheism/Monotheism and the Search for Meaning Why God? What Caused Religion? Origins of Religion Other Explanations Chapter 11: The Trickster of Mythology Why Trickster? Trickster Biological Origins Chapter 12: A Swath of Trickster Stories from Oral Literature Sex, Desire, and the Body Some Trickster Stories from Around the World Coyote Marries a Man (Plains Cree, North America) A Contest for Wives (Cochiti, North America) Legba (Fon, West Africa) Coyote Visits the Women (Assiniboine, North America) Coyote and His Anus (Nez Perce, North America) The Trickster Myth (Winnebago, North America) excerpts Uncle Tompa (Tibet) Namaranganin (Aborigine, Australia) Coyote Sleeps with His Own Daughters (Southern Ute, North America) How Kwaku Ananse Got Aso in Marriage (Ashanti, Africa) Coyote Keeps his Dead Wife's Genitals (Lipan Apache, North America) Chapter 13: Female Tricksters Evil Woman Trickster Stories The Toothed Vagina (Yurok, North America) Teeth in the Wrong Place (Ponca-Otoe, North America) The Witch Wife (Colombia) Proverbs 5, 3-8 (Hebrew) Clever/Good Women Trickster Stories Old Man Coyote Meets Coyote Woman (Blackfoot, North America) The Most Precious Thing in the World (Hebrew) The Clever Daughter-in-Law (Kanda, India) The Wife who Refused to be Beaten (Kashmiri, India) One More Use for Artists (Gujerti, India) The Faithful Wife and the Woman Warrior (Tiwa, North America) A Pueblo tale featuring Apache characters Iktome Sleeps with His Wife by Mistake (Brule Sioux, North America) Chapter 14: Literary Filters Chapter 15: Music and the Trickster Literary Filters Music and the Trickster Singing the World Into Being: Creation Stories with Song Apache Creation Story (North America) Creation Story (Hopi, North America) Bunjil The Creator #1 (Aboriginal, Australian) Dine (or Navajo) (North America) Mythic Trickster Musicians and Singers Ajapa and the Roasted-Peanut Seller (Yoruba, Africa) Coyote Giving (Paiute, North America) Hermes (Greek) Hanuman (India) The Zande Trickster, Tule; The Bushman (Africa) Chapter 16: A Swath of Other Trickster Stories from Around the World The Wonderful Tar Baby Story (African American) John (African American) How the Wicked Tanuki was Punished (Japan) Fox and Snake-Good is Repaid with Evil (Venezuela) Sun Wu-K'Ung, The Monkey King (China) Dionysus (Greek) The Wanderings of Dionysus (Greek) Prometheus (Greek) Pandora (Greek) Orpheus (Greek) Coyote and the Shadow People (Nez Perce, America) The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (Apocrophy Gospel, 2nd century) Jesus Child (Quichua, Ecuador) Jesus Christ (Cakchiquel Maya (Guatemala)/ Matias Sicajan) We-Gyet ('Ksan, Northwest Coast) Chapter 17: The Trickster Personified The Heyoka Ceremony Buddhist Clowns Jewish and Christian Clowns Other Clowns Islamic Clown Jesters Kannada; Tamil; Telugu (India) How Tamali Rama Became A Jester (India) Tamali Rama Recites Story of Ramayna (India) Tyll Ulenspiegel's Merry Prank (Germany) Quevedo and the King (Mexico) Chapter 18: Blues & Courting Tricksters Chapter 19: Trickster in Written Literature Chapter 20: Trickster Was Wandering
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Review quote

Taken as a whole, The Trickster Brain can be admired for its lofty goal, which is to connect a kind of cross-culturally realized narrative element to the biological design and function of the human brain. Folklorists may also admire Williams' willingness to work across disciplinary lines. Journal of Folklore Research David Williams tricks the reader into following in his fleet footsteps into the land of neuroscience, evolution, music, and other seemingly non-literary areas in order to flesh out something important about our evolutionary brains, namely our propensity for weaving stories. -- Peter Swirski, author of "Of Literature and Knowledge: Explorations in Narrative Thought Experiments, Evolution, and Game Theory" In The Trickster Brain, David Williams brings together the seemingly incompatible worlds of neuroscience, anthropology and literature with wit and scholarly flair. Williams does not shy away from the more contradictory elements of human nature in this ambitious book, and he leaves the reader with the knowledge that our own brains are tricking us into a better understanding of our most elemental natures. -- Kayt Sukel, author of "Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships"
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About David Williams

David Williams, PhD, has been a writer-in-residence at a number of universities and colleges, including Knox College and the Metropolitan State College of Denver. He is also an Emmy winning songwriter, cartoonist, and string musician with many CDs to his credit. Currently, he teaches in the Writing Program at the University of Colorado Boulder.
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Rating details

4 ratings
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