Cognitive Futures in the Arts and Humanities 2023 Conference

University of Warsaw, July 12-16, 2023

Cognitive Approaches to Art: A Reassessment of Results and Articulating New Possibilities

Building on the conferences associated with the network Cognitive FutureCs in the Arts and Humanities in Bangor (2013), Durham (2014), Oxford (2015), Helsinki (2016), Stony Brook (2017), Kent (2018) and Mainz (2019), the conference at the University of Warsaw will bring together scholars united in their attempts (both conceptual and practical) to question established disciplinary boundaries in the study of cultural practices, and to articulate new theories and methods at the intersection of the arts and the sciences.

Despite its considerable achievements in studying the body/mind/brain, cognitive science as a project is still in its adolescence, its existing methods still arguably lacking when used to explicate the dynamic and contextual nature of cognition manifested in its most intricate instances, such as imagination, creativity, and various cultural practices and artefacts. The theme of this conference will be a re-evaluation of past and current achievements of studying art (understood broadly enough to include dance, literature, music, skilled performance, theatre, and more) with the help of the sciences. What is being sought is a kind of recapitulation of what has and what has not been duly addressed and considered by the cognitive efforts when applied to the arts and humanities. Has the turn to the empirical brought about the advancement of our understanding of art that was promised? Do literary study, history of art, performance studies, musicology or aesthetics need to embrace more and newer branches of the natural sciences for methods and inspiration? Are the tools of neuro-aesthetics with their emphasis on highlighting only certain aspects of visual processing such as perceptual salience, exaggeration (peak shift) or recognition, or of new dynamic models of cognition such as , e.g. predictive processing, able to describe aesthetic experience as a whole or, rather, delineate only selected aspects of what constitutes a work of art and its reception? Where in all this is the place for the approaches that study the abilities of the arts to shape and educate attention, to develop perspective-taking in visual and non-visual terms, to cultivate the processes of ‘seeing’, rather than ‘seeing as’? Finally, are art and creativity, as human endeavours most involved in facilitating an encounter with the new, the strange, the multifaceted and the mere possible, given their due as equal partners in the study of cognition?

Topics relevant to the conference include, but are not limited to, Aesthetics (Analytical, Empirical and Phenomenological), Audience, Affect and Reception, Cognitive Neuroscience and the Arts, Cognitive Poetics, Cognitive Narratology, 4E Cognition and the Arts, Interdisciplinary Methodologies in Art Study, Material Culture.

Organisers: Yanna Popova (Centre for Research on Culture, Language, and Mind), in cooperation with Local Organising Committee – Joanna Jurewicz, Katarzyna Kuś, Agnieszka Libura, Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi, Jacek Rogala, Julian Zubek.


The University of Warsaw is currently the highest ranking university in Poland. Its central campus, where the conference will take place, is situated in the very heart of Warsaw, within walking distance of the Old Town and other major sights and museums.

Submission details:

We will accept submissions for both individual papers and pre-formed panels on a given topic. Innovative panels and round-table discussions are also welcome, as are performance presentations, workshops and posters. For individual papers, please, send 250-word abstracts to by 10 February 2023. For pre-formed panels, please, submit individual abstracts, as well as a summary paragraph. We will consider only one individual paper per scholar but it is possible to submit both an individual abstract and a full panel proposal, should you wish to do so.

All submissions should be sent as word file attachments, displaying the title and text of the abstract only, with the name of the presenter, affiliation and email address as part of the body of the mail itself.

We look forward to welcoming you to Warsaw!