Dr. Nicholas Mykelbust
Regis College Senior Honors Program
Thesis - Open Access
Number of Pages
Top-down processing, with its ability to allow us to easily categorize external stimuli, has become the assumed default mode of perception among people, but those with conditions like synesthesia and autism might be more inclined to rely on bottom-up processing, which involves a fascination with the stimulus and a lack of efficient categorization of it. Because of the assumption that top-down processing dominates most worldviews, literature often embodies that perspective, neglecting bottom-up viewpoints. William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury offers four different perspectives that fall in four different locations along the spectrum of processing that runs between pure bottom-up and pure top-down worldviews. Through his use of cross-modal and cross-categorical language in certain sections, Faulkner effectively induces temporary bottom-up perceptions in the reader and cultivates empathy for individuals who perceive stimuli in that way. This unique case study allows for the investigation of the ability of cross-modal and cross-categorical language to create bottom-up processing where it might not otherwise exist, and this consequently broadens the reader’s ability to empathize with people like the ones described in such literature. Going forward, then, it is vital to include more of this kind of language in order to include bottom-up processors in our literary tradition and in our scope of empathy.
Date of Award
© KC Moore
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Moore, KC, "Promoting Bottom-Up Processing Through Literature" (2017). Student Publications. 812.