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By Jerome Bruner

Jerome Bruner argues that the cognitive revolution, with its present fixation on brain as "information processor;" has led psychology clear of the deeper aim of knowing brain as a author of meanings. merely through breaking out of the restrictions imposed by means of a computational version of brain will we take hold of the specified interplay wherein brain either constitutes and is constituted via culture.

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60 To set this kind of general context for the novel of unseasonable youth, I have sketched an alignment of several strands of fin de siècle intellectual history: the historiographical critique of progress, the anthropological critique of social evolution, the colonial critique of Eurocentrism, the philosophical critique of the sovereign subject, the psychoanalytical critique of the integrated ego—all taken as intertwining challenges to nineteenth-century “developmental” thinking. Such tectonic shifts never happen neatly or instantly of course, and part of the special power of literary genres is to record, in what Fredric Jameson has memorably described as a kind of formal sedimentation, the presence of earlier epistemes even as they adumbrate new intellectual dispensations, new social conjunctures, and new aesthetic possibilities.

Mao’s work, building on Patricia Spacks’s classic account of literary youth, establishes an intellectual and social-scientific context for the late Victorian novel of development, in particular the newly codified concept of adolescence embodied in G. 30 For Mao, the professional and scientific, medical and juridical languages of adolescence emergent in the period are strongly resonant with aestheticist accounts of the environment’s shaping power over the young mind. In both kinds of discourse, every social input, every exquisite detail, counts in the subject-forming process: We might say that the novel of formation had to reach a watershed when development became a matter of continuous shaping by the totality of one’s surroundings, of often silent and invisible molding by factors human, inhuman, and quasi-human.

38 With no new territory to annex, the European powers faced new pressure to cast the extant colonies as eternally adolescent, always developing but never developed enough. Sexuality and Gender The intellectual contours of the larger crisis of progress sketched earlier are well documented in political and cultural histories of the late Victorian period; literary analysis allows us to examine them in relation to fine textual details and intimate vocabularies of identity. 39 These putatively immature subjects stand out in relief against residual but still normative progress narratives and resonate with emergent counternarratives of degeneration, decadence, and rebarbarization.

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