This page lists all my academic books, articles, journal special issues, book chapters, and book reviews, along with my blog, other online writing and guest podcasting, and my two popular nonfiction collaborations.

The latest:

My two latest papers both had an implausibly long gestation time (6 and 9 years respectively). I’m very bad at deleting things from my master to-do list, and maybe I should have given up on either or both of these years ago. Given that I didn’t, maybe they can serve as case studies in the nonlinear routes by which empirical research and publication so often happen.

In 2015 I had tea with a then PhD student, Emily Holman, whom I knew a little from a cognitive humanities writing group James Carney and I had run two years previously. We chatted about our shared interests in the psychological effects of fiction-reading, and ended up applying for a grant at Emily’s college in Oxford, Balliol, to run a pilot experiment on the potential mental health benefits of taking part in a reading group. 

We got the money and ran two groups, in late 2015 and early 2016, and then we somehow managed to take a full two years to finish transcribing the audio recordings of the sessions (which were long and of moderately poor quality), and then data analysis and writing up and submitting to journals and getting desk rejections based on the editors’ failure to find willing reviewers took another almost four years, in between all the other academic and professional things that were more pressing.

But here it finally is: what we hope will set some useful precedents for research on what happens in reading groups designed to have beneficial effects for their participants. Most existing research bases its conclusions on what readers say about their experiences after the fact, which makes it very easy to conclude that positive effects are being had. In this study, computational analysis of the discussion transcripts plus the full texts of the books we read (Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground and Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life and Other Stories) let us draw conclusions distinct from self-report with all its obvious biases and blindspots. Tldr: Enjoying the text or the discussion doesn’t matter much when it comes to potentially positive outcomes, but keeping on-topic in the discussion (by talking about the text) does.

Hopefully we’ll get some peer reviewers soon!


As a 1st-year PhD student back in 2006, I had lots of chats with my scientist parents about what makes Kafka’s writing so cool, and specifically what kind of mental imagery his mostly minimal and sometimes overtly weird descriptions generate. At some point, one or more of us came up with the idea of getting people to draw what they imagine when they read Kafka’s fiction. I tried the method out with a passage that had always intrigued me, the first paragraph of his third and final novel Das Schloß (The Castle), getting first my family and then some pupils at my old school to be my guinea pigs, I mean pilot participants. The method generated some extremely attractive data (crenellations everywhere!) and there seemed to be some mileage in it, but my main PhD experiment turned out to be something else.

A couple of years after finishing my PhD, in 2012, I was involved in another empirical project and my colleague kindly offered to roll some more systematic castle data-gathering into the recruitment she was doing. We ended up with 81 participants, far more than I’d expected to be able to get, and then I did some rudimentary analysis of the data that didn’t yield anything much, and then I didn’t quite know what to do next, and there were always more pressing things to get on with.

And so “Castle writeup” proceeded to sit comfortably on my Google tasks list for 8(!) years, until in 2020 I was running a writing sprint for students, made this my own sprint-week task, and then emailed my friend and colleague James Carney, saying “May I ask your advice about my ancient Castle experiment?”. He kindly responded that he was glad I was dusting it off, and proceeded to suggest a bunch of cool analytical methods that helped us make sense of the data and generate what I hope will prove to be some useful precedents for other researchers too.

We’re both really proud of the paper that’s emerged, and the figures are beautiful, of course!




Troscianko, E.T. (2014). Kafka’s cognitive realism. London: Routledge.
[download: Kafkas-Cognitive-Realism_front-matter-and-intro_Troscianko-2014]

Sets out the value of cognitive realism – a convergence between cognitive faculties as they operate in readers’ minds and are evoked in literary texts – for the theoretical and empirical study of literature, taking Kafka’s evocations of vision, imagination, and emotion as the case study. Appraised in Modern Language Review 110(4) as an ‘engagingly written interdisciplinary study’ which presents its main thesis with ‘exemplary clarity’, and makes ‘an important contribution to this area of Kafka studies’.

Co-authored textbook:

Blackmore, S., and Troscianko, E.T. (2018). Consciousness: An introduction. 3rd edition. London: Routledge. (Google Books preview (ebook version) here; page here. Or read more on this site on the Consciousness page.)
[download: Consciousness-3rd-edition_front-matter-intro_author-accepted-manuscript-version_Blackmore-and-Troscianko-2018]

In this major collaboration with my mother, Sue Blackmore, I’ve taken the lead on fully restructuring and generating much new material for the third edition of the world’s only textbook on the mystery of consciousness, embracing psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, and touching on many other fields. (My brother Jolyon Troscianko also created the wonderful illustrations!)

Edited book:

Burke, M., and Troscianko, E.T. (Eds) (2017). Cognitive literary science: Dialogues between literature and cognition. New York: Oxford University Press. (Google Books preview here; page here.)
[download: CLSci_front-matter-and-intro_Burke-and-Troscianko-2017]

Showcases the three main variations on cognitive literary science, highlighting the potential for the literary to contribute to the scientific as well as vice versa.

Co-edited special issue:

Burke, M., and Troscianko, E.T. (Eds) (2013). Explorations in cognitive literary science. Special issue, Journal of Literary Semantics, 42(2).
[open access to the full issue:
[download: Mind-brain-and-literature_Burke-and-Troscianko-2013]

Brings together contributions demonstrating the potential for disciplinary reciprocity in the field of cognitive literary science.

Online bibliography:

Lead author, Cognitive Humanities annotated bibliography

A selection of chapters and articles on a wide range of cognitive topics, to help cog lit researchers wanting to orient themselves in a new area of cognitive science and scientists wanting to learn more about the cognitive humanities. Created in 2017 and thoroughly updated in 2020.


Peer-reviewed journal articles:

Troscianko, E.T., and Leon, M. (2020). Treating eating: A dynamical systems theory of eating disorders. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1801.

My first attempt to set out a coherent vision for how eating disorder treatment could be improved.

[open access here]

Troscianko, E.T. (2018). Literary reading and eating disorders: Survey evidence of therapeutic help and harm. Journal of Eating Disorders, 6, 8.
[open access here]

Presents the findings from the major online survey conducted with Beat, which offer detailed self-report evidence of the links between reading and mental health from nearly 900 respondents, and contradict received wisdom about the types of literary text likely to be most therapeutically beneficial.

Troscianko, E.T. (2018). Fiction-reading for good or ill: Eating disorders, interpretation and the case for creative-bibliotherapy research. Medical Humanities, online first 21 April.
[download: Fiction-reading-for-good-or-ill_eating-disorders-interpretation-and-creative-bibliotherapy-research_Troscianko-2018]

Makes the broader argument for bringing research on eating disorders and on (literary) interpretation into dialogue, highlighting how much is assumed and how little really known.

Willemsen, S., Kraglund, R.A., and Troscianko, E.T. (2018). Interpretation: Its status as object or method of study in cognitive and unnatural narratology. Poetics Today, 39(3), 597-622.
[download: Interpretation_status-as-object-or-method-of-study-in-cognitive-and-unnatural-narratology_Willemsen-Kraglund-Troscianko-2018]

What is interpretation for the humanities? The cognitive/unnatural narratology schism offers a telling illustration of the difference between treating interpretation as a method or an object of inquiry.

Troscianko, E.T. (2014). First-person and second-generation perspectives on starvation in Kafka’s ‘Ein Hungerkünstler’. In M. Caracciolo and K. Kukkonen (Eds), ‘Cognitive literary study: Second-generation approaches’. Special issue, Style, 48(3), 331-348.
[download: First-person-and-second-generation-perspectives-on-starvation-in-Kafkas-Ein-Hungerkuenstler_Troscianko-2014]

Argues for the importance of acknowledging both personal experience and embodiment in understanding the meanings and effects of Kafka’s short story about a man who fasts to death for others’ entertainment.

Troscianko, E.T.  (2014). Reading Kafka enactively. In T. Cave, K. Kukkonen, and O. Smith (Eds), ‘Reading literature cognitively’. Special issue, Paragraph, 37, 15-31.
[download: Reading-Kafka-enactively_Troscianko-2014]

Sets out the importance of understanding cognition as enactive (i.e. constituted by physical interaction between embodied minds and environments) for appreciating the effects of Kafka’s novel Der Proceß (The Trial) in the contexts of vision and imagination, language, and emotion.

Troscianko, E.T. (2013). Reading imaginatively: The imagination in cognitive science and cognitive literary studies. In M. Burke and E.T. Troscianko (Eds), ‘Explorations in cognitive literary science’. Special issue, Journal of Literary Semantics, 42(2), 181-198.
[download: Reading-imaginatively_Troscianko-2013]

Shows how empirical findings on literary reading can and should inform the scientific study of mental imagery.

Burke, Michael, and Emily T. Troscianko. (2013). Mind, brain, and literature: A Dialogue on what the humanities might offer the cognitive sciences. In M. Burke and E.T. Troscianko (Eds), ‘Explorations in Cognitive Literary Science’. Special issue, Journal of Literary Semantics, 42, 141-148.
[download: Mind-brain-and-literature_Burke-and-Troscianko-2013]

Introduces the special issue with reasons why the study of literature is important to the study of the mind.

Troscianko, E.T. (2013). Cognitive realism and memory in Proust’s madeleine episode. Memory Studies, 6, 437-456.
[download: Cognitive-realism-and-memory-in-Prousts-madeleine-episode_Troscianko-2013]

Investigates the divergences and discrepancies between the mechanisms of memory and Proust’s evocation of it to explain the perennial popularity of the madeleine in the popular imagination.

Troscianko, E.T. (2012). The cognitive realism of memory in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Modern Language Review, 107, 772-795.
[download: Cognitive-realism-of-memory-in-Flauberts-Madame-Bovary_Troscianko-2012]

Highlights the significance of memory in relation to cognitive dissonance in readers’ engagements with Flaubert’s eponymous heroine.

Troscianko, E.T. (2010). Kafkaesque worlds in real time. Language and Literature, 19, 171-191.
[download: Kafkaesque-worlds-in-real-time_Troscianko-2010]

Argues that we need to understand cognition – and vision and imagination in particular – as embodied and enactive to grasp the essence of the ‘Kafkaesque’ as it plays with readers’ experiences of space and time.

Book chapters:

Troscianko, E.T. (2020). Nietzsche’s Genealogie der Moral pro and contra distributed cognition. In M. Anderson, P. Garratt, & M. Sprevak (Eds). Distributed cognition in Victorian culture and modernism (pp. 209-231). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
[the book is on Amazon and Google Books, or download the uncorrected proofs of my chapter: Nietzsches-Genealogie-der-Moral-pro-and-contra-distributed-cognition_Troscianko-2020]

A chapter that began life, long ago back in 2005-06, as a Masters dissertation, and got a thorough overhaul in light of all the science I’ve learned since. It shows how Nietzsche’s rhetorical presentation of his perspectivist thesis promotes and depends on a form of readerly cognition in which embodied and enactive imagining is central, but is also marked by a profound equivocation, both in the apparently relativist ideas being promoted and in the corresponding limitations placed on readers’ imaginations.

Troscianko, E.T. (2018). Reading Kafka. In C. Duttlinger (Ed.), Franz Kafka in context (pp. 283-292). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [download (uncorrected proofs): Reading-Kafka_Troscianko-2017_uncorrected-proofs]

Traces the history of professional ways of reading Kafka’s texts, arguing that despite their varied theoretical agendas, they have always been trying to answer the question current cognitive approaches make explicit: what makes reading (Kafka) feel like this?

Troscianko, E.T. (2017). How should we talk about reading experiences? Arguments and empirical evidence. In T. Koblížek (Ed.), Aesthetic illusion (pp. 237-271). New York: Bloomsbury.
[download (uncorrected proofs): How-should-we-talk-about-reading-experiences_Troscianko-2017_formatted-preprint]

Criticises the concept of aesthetic illusion using both theoretical considerations and an analysis of free-response data from my survey on reading habits and mental health with the charity Beat.

Troscianko, E.T. (2017). Feedback in reading and disordered eating. In M. Burke and E.T. Troscianko (Eds), Cognitive literary science: Dialogues between literature and cognition (pp. 169-194). New York: Oxford University Press.
[download: Feedback-in-reading-and-disordered-eating_Troscianko-2017]

Demonstrates, theoretically and empirically, the importance of feedback – and especially unstable positive feedback loops – for understanding both disordered eating and the interpretation of fiction.

Troscianko, E. (2013). Dying by inches. In C.W. LeCroy and J. Holschuh (Eds), First-person accounts of mental illness and recovery (pp. 239-262). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Google Books preview here.
[download (final unedited draft): Dying-by-inches_Troscianko-2013_final-unedited-draft]

The brief was to provide an account of my experience of anorexia and recovery for a book aimed at social work students, designed to help them understand “the other side” of living
with a disorder, to supplement the DSM and formal case studies they would otherwise be limited to. I was asked to include ”a lot on the illness itself and some on the recovery” (the ratio is about 10 pp. to 4).


Troscianko, E.T. (2009-present). A hunger artist.
[or see a themed list of posts here:

Brings together personal and scientific perspectives on disordered eating for a readership of sufferers, their friends and families, and others, with over 100 posts to date. I engage in detailed dialogue, through blog comments and inquiry-form contact, with numerous readers on a near-daily basis – the blog has so far attracted over 2.5 million all-time views and over 1,700 comments.

Guest blog posts and online articles:

The Conversation, New research explores how reading affects eating disorders – for good and ill (July 2018), How do your reading habits shape your health—and vice versa? (March 2018)

The Early Career Blog:

Guest post on making career exploration part of everyday life: Career planning: Your future is now (June 2020)

Guest series on resilience and academia:

    1. Resilience: Does academia complement or conflict with who you are? (with Rachel Bray, June 2018)
    2. The feedback dynamics between you and academia (with Rachel Bray, August 2018)
    3. Resilience: Your working identities (with Rachel Bray, October 2019)
    4. Resilience: Having a strategy for cultivating resilience (with Rachel Bray, October 2019)

Or read the director’s cut of all four posts in one here.

Durham Centre for Medical Humanities:

2018 International Health Humanities Consortium Conference, Stanford: A snapshot and two questions (2018)

How on earth will the medical humanities make you a better doctor? (2015)

What Literature Knows About Your Mind (Cambridge University):

Thinking about Thinking with Literature (2015)

Prose or Prozac? (2014)

Imperfect Cognitions (University of Birmingham) (2015), All that glitters…

Women in German Studies ECR Blog (2015), Early-career creativity

Beat news blog (2015), Bodies, minds, and words: A new collaboration

Audio and video podcasts:

Mind Reading: Experts in Conversation (UCD Humanities Institute), discussion of eating disorders and narrative (2021)

School of Advanced Study podcast (with Seán Williams), discussion on ‘Kafka in quarantine’  (2020)

Eating Disorder Recovery Podcast (2016)

New Books Network (New Books in Literature series), interview on Kafka’s cognitive realism (2016)

TORCH Book at Lunchtime series, chair, Terence Cave’s Thinking with Literature (2016)

TORCH Humanities and Science in Conversation series: Mental Health (2015)

TORCH Book at Lunchtime series, Kafka’s Cognitive Realism (2014)

Online articles I contributed to:

Canvas8Can Christmas dinner ‘go clean’? (December 2017) [paywall-protected]

Book reviews:

Troscianko, E.T. (2021). Review of Samuel Beckett and experimental psychology: Perception, attention, imagery by Joshua Powell. French Studies, 75(2), 283-284.
[open access here:

Blackmore, S., and Troscianko, E.T. (2019). Out with folk psychology, in with what? Reviewed Work: The mind is flat: The remarkable shallowness of the improvising brain by Nick Chater. The American Journal of Psychology, 132(3), 369-374.
[download: Out-with-folk-psychology-in-with-what_Blackmore-and-Trosianko-reviewing-Chater-2019]

This is our part of a fun reciprocal review format in which we reviewed Chater’s book and he reviewed ours. (His review, called ‘Consciousness explored’, is here. If you’re interested, there’s also a second review of his book, by journal editor Dom Massaro, entitled ‘The richness of flatness’, here.)

Troscianko, E.T. (2017). Review of Acts of Consciousness: A social psychology standpoint by Guy Saunders. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 24(7-8), 251-56.
[download preprint: Review-of-Saunders_Acts-of-consciousness_Troscianko-2017-preprint]

A great book of which I hope this review gives a little flavour.

Troscianko, E.T. (2014). Review of Kafka for the Twenty-First Century by Stanley Corngold and Ruth V. Gross (eds). Austrian Studies, 21, 228-30.
[download: Review-of-Corngold-and-Gross_Kafka-for-the-21st-century_Troscianko-2014]

Troscianko, E.T. (2013). Review of Ist das Kafka? 99 Fundstücke by Reiner Stach. Modern Language Review, 108, 666-67.
[download: Review-of-Stach_Ist-das-Kafka_Troscianko-2013]

Troscianko, E.T. (2012). Review of Franz Kafka: Narration, Rhetoric, and Reading by Lothe, Sandberg, and Speirs (eds). Modern Language Review, 107, 987-89.
[download: Review-of-Lothe-Sandberg-Speirs_Kafka-narration-rhetoric-and-reading_Troscianko-2012]

Troscianko, E.T. (2011). Review of Kafka und der Film by Peter-André Alt. Modern Language Review, 106, 593-94.
[download: Review-of-Alt_Kafka-und-der-Film_Troscianko-2010]

Troscianko, E.T. (2010). Reviews of Kafka Lesen: Acht Textanalysen by Marko Pajevic and Verkehr mit Gespenstern: Gothic und Moderne bei Franz Kafka by Barry Murnane. Modern Language Review, 105, 909-11.
[download: Reviews-of-Pajevic-Acht-Textanalysen-and-Murnane-Verkehr-mit-Gespenstern_Troscianko-2010]

Popular nonfiction:

Hart-Davis, A., and Troscianko, E. (2006). Taking the piss: A potted history of pee. Stroud: Chalford.

Everything you never knew you needed to know about urine, from chemistry to Warhol to reindeer to army rations.

Hart-Davis, A., and Troscianko, E. (2002). Henry Winstanley and the Eddystone lighthouse. Stroud: Sutton.

A tragic tale of engineering and hubris, centred on the first lighthouse ever to be built on a rock in the open sea.

Other stuff:

Writing boats and painting books

For something a little light-hearted, my illustrated reflections on what repainting a 50-foot narrowboat can teach us about writing.

[download: Writing-boats-and-painting-books_Troscianko-2021]