Home   Emily Troscianko

Who am I?



I am currently a Junior Research Fellow in Modern Languages (French and German) at St John's College, Oxford. I have a BA in French and German from the University of Oxford (2004), as well as a Masters (M.St.) in European Literature (German, 2006) and a D.Phil. in German (2010), both also from Oxford. 

My research explores the experience of reading fiction, and in particular the question of what makes some fictional texts seem realistic. I employ a scientifically informed approach to investigate readers' responses to textual features, using the framework of what I call 'cognitive realism' (the extent to which a text's evocation of cognition corresponds to how our minds actually work). In general I think it's important that cognitive literary studies combine theoretical insights from the cognitive sciences (including psychology,  neuroscience, linguistics, and philosophy of mind) with empirical testing of readers' responses to fictional texts and the close reading that has always been essential to traditional literary criticism. My first monograph, Kafka's Cognitive Realism, tries to put these principles into practice in the context of Kafka and enactive cognition; it was published by Routledge in February 2014.

My research has now moved on to investigate cognitive realism and memory, in the two literary 'periods' or 'movements' of Realism and Modernism, with the dual aim of elucidating the cognitive effects of specific texts and asking whether Realism and Modernism really are as diametrically opposed as is often assumed. My next project will bring my experiences of and research on anorexia into dialogue with literary studies, by exploring eating disorders as the object of both medical/scientific and literary-critical discourses, in particular looking at the problems of mind-body dualism and how they may be addressed by recent 'second-generation' cognitive science.

I feel strongly that the academic world could and should do much more to address the widespread stigma and secrecy surrounding mental health, and I am privileged to be working with other passionate members of the College and University, organising events and other initiatives to encourage people to talk openly and honestly about the realities of mental health and illness.

For six years I lived on a narrowboat in Oxford, and I now split my leisure time - when not powerlifting - between boat, convertible, and motorhome.


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