Laura Otis


Trained as a neuroscientist and literary scholar, Laura Otis, Ph.D., studies the ways 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.

She 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, available on DCPAS). 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”.

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