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Teaching Children and Computers: Computational Models of Cognition and Behaviour in Literature and Culture, 1830 to the Present

Barnes, Rebecca Elizabeth (2015) Teaching Children and Computers: Computational Models of Cognition and Behaviour in Literature and Culture, 1830 to the Present. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis explores an intellectual tradition that represents cognitive-behavioural flexibility in terms of a flexible arrangement of inflexible units. It aims to show that during the period 1830 to the present, the influence of models derived from computing technology resulted in this tradition attaining a specific expression. This thesis offers an explanation of how the mechanical computers designed by the British polymath Charles Babbage (1791-1871) enabled this computational model of cognition and behaviour to emerge in the mid-nineteenth century. A primary purpose of this thesis is to highlight and explore representations of this model in nineteenth-century literature and culture, focusing upon its significance for the portrayal of pedagogical methodologies in this era. This thesis gives particular consideration to depictions of this model in the fiction of George Eliot (1819-1880), with the aim of revealing how this computational model was freighted with cultural meaning. This thesis seeks to make an intervention in nineteenth-century studies by tracing the role of Babbage and Eliot in shaping the literary and sociocultural representation of computing technology. This thesis also argues that a comparable model characterises twentieth- and twenty-first-century attachment theory as a result of twentieth-century computers similar to those invented by Babbage. It is the intention of this thesis to situate the models of mental processing studied as corresponding instances of an intellectual tradition. I hope to show that attending to the representation of this computational model in Eliot’s fiction can allow us to reflect upon the cultural implications of this model in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, especially as regards pedagogical methodologies. This thesis seeks to illustrate that these correspondences can provide a historical and critical framework for applying attachment theory to nineteenth-century texts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Computing; Attachment Theory; Pedagogy; George Eliot; Charles Babbage
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.682335
Depositing User: Miss Rebecca Barnes
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2016 13:42
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12455

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