Monday, October 13, 2014, KL232


Laura Otis, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of English, Emory Univesrity


Individual Ways of Thinking: How Can Qualitative Research Contribute to Knowledge of Cognition?


People vary astonishingly in their relationships with visual mental imagery and verbal language, and they represent the world quite differently in their minds. How can awareness of these individual variations be assessed in a way that takes each person’s world-view into account but goes beyond the anecdotal level? This presentation will offer the results of interview-based research analyzing how the experience of thought varies from person to person. The interviewees include Temple Grandin, Salman Rushdie, and 32 other creative thinkers from a wide range of professions. The aim is to consider how laboratory-based, qualitative, and literary studies of human thought might complement and reinforce each other as epistemological techniques.

Short Bio:

Laura Otis is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of English at Emory University. With an MA in Neuroscience and a PhD in Comparative Literature, she compares the creative thinking of scientists and literary writers. Otis is the author of Organic Memory, Membranes, Networking, and Müller’s Lab; the translator of Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s Vacation Stories; and the editor of Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century. For her interdisciplinary studies of literature and science, she received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000.