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Project description

Group minds in ancient narrative

Social cognition is crucial in shaping our lives and narratives. But how does storytelling enhance our understanding of our thought processes and social interactions? Ancient literature offers valuable insights into these inquiries. Funded by the European Research Council, the GROUPMINDS project aims to build a bridge between narrative theory and a phenomenological take on cognition as socially extended and distributed among a set of individuals. This connection will illuminate the role of narrative in human comprehension of the social world. GROUPMINDS hypothesises that Greek and Latin narratives unveil novel aspects of group cognition processes. It will analyse group minds in narratives, present a narratology of collectives, and explore cognitive responses to storytelling.


Social cognition is a crucial category of both life and narratives. We read stories about people who engage in social interactions, act on shared emotions and thoughts, and often view themselves as part of specific groups. But how does narrative representation of collective consciousness serve as a mode of coming to grips with everyday social and distributed cognition? My project aims to build a bridge between narrative theory and a phenomenological take on cognition as socially extended and distributed among a set of individuals, in order to provide new answers as to the question of narrative’s function in humans' understanding of the social world.

Ancient literature offers precious material for such an approach. The research hypothesis of this project is that Greek and Latin narratives thematise processes of group cognition in ways hitherto undetected, and that a detailed analysis of these processes offers new insights over the way narrative cognitively affects both reading experience and real-life experience of intersubjectivity. In order to be able to test this hypothesis, the project adopts an interdisciplinary methodology that brings together structuralist narratology, cognitive narrative studies, and research on social cognition in philosophy, psychology, and the cognitive sciences. It envisages the following objectives: (1) to analyse the techniques by which group minds and intermentality are narrativised, and thus offer the first narratology of collectives; (2) to investigate the cognitive responses which are evoked in the audiences during story reading; and (3) to illuminate the ways and extent that thinking about collective narrative minds feeds into thinking about human minds, cognitive interaction, and intersubjectivity in the real world.

The project offers a groundbreaking contribution to the narratological analysis of (ancient) texts, the study of narrative’s social, cognitive and psychological effects on reader, the history of social cognition, and all disciplines that study group minds.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 494 750,00
1678 Nicosia

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Κύπρος Κύπρος Κύπρος
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 494 750,00

Beneficiaries (1)