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Laura C. Otis Ph.D.


Laura Otis, Ph.D., is trained as a neuroscientist and literary scholar. She studies the ways that literature and science intersect. In her interdisciplinary research, she compares scientific and literary writers' descriptions of memory, identity, emotion, and thought. Her research has been supported by MacArthur, Guggenheim, Fulbright, and Humboldt Fellowships.

Otis earned her B.S. in Biochemistry at Yale University, her M.A. in Neuroscience from the University of California at San Francisco, her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University, and her M.F.A. in Fiction from Warren Wilson College. Since 2004 she has been a Professor of English at Emory University, where she teaches interdisciplinary courses on literature, neuroscience, cognitive science, and medicine. Otis conducts research as a guest scholar in the History of Emotions group at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Otis is the author of Organic Memory (1994), Membranes (1999), Networking (2001), Müller’s Lab (2007), Rethinking Thought (2016), and Banned Emotions (2019). She has also translated neurobiologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s Vacation Stories (2001) into English and has edited Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology (2002). A fiction writer as well as a scholar, she is the author of the novels Clean, Refiner’s Fire, Lacking in Substance, The Tantalus Letters, and The Memory Hive. Her current project, The Neuroscience of Craft, examines what neuroscientists and creative writers can learn from each other about how sensations blend in people’s minds.

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