Gwenda Koo, St Edmund's

Degree: PhD
Course: English
Supervisor: Prof Raphael Lyne
Dissertation Title:

Isolated Moments in Cognition: A Cognitive Approach to the Poetics of Solitude in Modernist Literature

Biographical Information

I studied for my BSc (Hons.) in English and Psychology at the University of Toronto, then did a Post-graduate Diploma in Education in English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I have taught English and English Literature in secondary schools for several years, before doing my MA in English (Distinction) at Durham Univeristy. I am now currently working towards my PhD at St. Edmund's, Cambridge. 


Research Interests

My project aims to contribute to the interdisciplinary research of cognitive literary studies: focusing on the psychological literature in modernism, I intend to explore how literary representations of solitude could further the understanding of its cognitive processes. My research will look at the works of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield. It will complicate the long-established critique of modernism’s ‘inward turn’ and its subjective view of reality in light of cognitive models of inner mental activity: the science of mind-wandering, inner speech, 4E cognition, cognitive appraisal theories of emotions and reality monitoring processes. I would like to examine modernism’s portrayal of a strong relatedness between the mind and its social world, expanding our understanding of the psychological state of solitude and its role in forming selfhood.


Wider areas of interest include: twentieth-century literature; modernism; European avant-gardes; cognitive approach to literature; cognitive literary theory; psychological novels; psychoanalysis; philosophy of mind; dance and embodied cognition. 


Selected Publications


Published Articles:


Conferences and Research Forums:

  • 'Capturing Reality: The Inconsistent Narrative Voices in Katherine Mansfield', Northeast Modern Language Association's 55th Annual Convention (NeMLA), Boston, MA, The United States (March 2024)
  • 'A Cognitive Experience of Emotion in Katherine Mansfield's Taking the Veil and A Dill Pickle', Katherine Mansfield Society Conference on Katherine Mansfield: Life, Light and Renewal, Fontainebleau-avon, France (October 2023)
  • 'Dance and Embodied and Enactive Cognition in D. H. Lawrence', 2023 AHRC International Conference on Entanglements, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford (September 2023)
  • 'Embodied and Enactive Cognition in D. H. Lawrence', Graduate Interdisciplinary Network Flash Forum, University of Cambridge (December 2022)
  • ‘A Collective Consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway’, St. Chad’s College MCR Research Forum, Durham University (August 2021)
  • ‘The Touch of the Human Hand: Blood-consciousness in D. H. Lawrence’, Digital Summer Conference 2021, Exclamation Postgraduate Journal, University of Exeter (July 2021)