Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Comparative Literature


Vincent Crapanzano

Committee Members

Jason Tougaw

André Aciman

Subject Categories

American Literature | Arts and Humanities | Cognitive Neuroscience | Cognitive Science | Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Philosophy | Philosophy of Mind | Psychology


Metacognition, Consciousness, Akrasia, Poe, Shelley, DeLillo


This thematic project examines the notion of self-division, particularly in terms of the conflict between cognition and metacognition, across the fields of philosophy, psychology, and, most recently, the cognitive and neurosciences. The project offers a historic overview of models of self-division, as well as analyses of the various problems presented in theoretical models to date. This work explores how self-division has been depicted in the literary works of Edgar Allan Poe, Don DeLillo, and Mary Shelley. It examines the ways in which artistic renderings alternately assimilate, resist, and/or critique dominant philosophical, psychological, and scientific discourses about the self and its divisions. This dissertation argues that the internal conflict portrayed by the writers of these literary characters is conscious: it is the conflict of the metacognitive “I” against akratic impulses, unwanted cognitions, and, ultimately, consciousness as a whole.