Dr E Troscianko

Emily T. Troscianko, (BA Hons, MSt, DPhil, Oxford)

Modern Languages Faculty member and Knowledge Exchange Fellow at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH)



My current medical humanities project builds on my research background in cognitive literary studies to investigate the connections between fiction-reading and disordered eating. Together with the eating disorders charity Beat, I am starting to develop a metholodogy for empirically investigating both how reading might have an impact on mental health, and how differences in mental health affect the processes of literary reading and interpretation.

This work has developed naturally out of my longer-standing interests in how readers respond to fiction and what makes text seem realistic. My doctorate and my first monograph, Kafka’s Cognitive Realism, explored Kafka’s works in terms of their ‘cognitive realism’ in the realms of perception and emotion, applying cognitive-scientific findings and theories directly to the analysis of textual features and readers’ potential interactions with them. In this context I became especially interested in ‘second-generation’ cognitive science, which takes seriously the embodied, enactive, embedded, and extended nature of the mind — factors which are particularly crucial to understanding eating disorders as well as literary responses.

I strongly believe that the future of literary studies lies in constructive collaboration with other disciplines, and especially the cognitive sciences, and that both the sciences and the humanities have a lot to learn from each other through the cooperative investigation of how minds and texts interact.


Contribute to my current research by completing this online survey on reading and mental health. It’s open to anyone aged 18 and over.




I specialise in the literature of German Modernism (especially Kafka, Rilke, Thomas Mann, and Nietzsche) and Realism (notably Fontane). I am also keen to supervise research projects in the cognitive and medical humanities.






2014. Kafka’s Cognitive Realism. London: Routledge.

Forthcoming 2016. Burke, Michael, and Emily T. Troscianko. Dialogues between Literature and Cognition. Oxford University Press.

Forthcoming 2016. Blackmore, Susan, and Emily T. Troscianko. Consciousness: An Introduction. 3rd edition. London: Routledge.


Co-edited journal special issue

Burke, Michael, and Emily T. Troscianko. 2013. “Explorations in Cognitive Literary Science.” Special issue, Journal of Literary Semantics 42.
(Introduction by Michael Burke and Emily T. Troscianko; contributions by Michael Burke, Patrick Colm Hogan, Merja Polvinen, Emily T. Troscianko, and Roel M. Williams.)


Book chapters

Forthcoming 2016. “Synaesthesia and Cognitive Literary Science.” In Dialogues between Literature and Cognition, ed. Michael Burke and Emily T. Troscianko. Oxford University Press.

2013. “Dying by Inches”, in First-Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery, edited by Craig Winston LeCroy and Jane Holschuh, 239-62. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


Refereed journal articles

2014. “Starving Body and Mind: First-Person and Second-Generation Perspectives.” In Cognitive Literary Study: Second-Generation Approaches, edited by Marco Caracciolo and Karin Kukkonen. Special issue, Style 48: 331-48.

2014. “Reading Kafka Enactively.” In “Reading Literature Cognitively”, edited by Terence Cave, Karin Kukkonen, and Olivia Smith for the Balzan Interdisciplinary Project “Literature as an Object of Knowledge”. Special issue, Paragraph 37: 15-31.

2013. “Reading Imaginatively: The Imagination in Cognitive Science and Cognitive Literary Studies.” In “Explorations in Cognitive Literary Science,” edited by Michael Burke and Emily T. Troscianko. Special issue, Journal of Literary Semantics 42: 181-98.

Burke, Michael, and Emily T. Troscianko. 2013. “Mind, Brain, and Literature: A Dialogue on What the Humanities Might Offer the Cognitive Sciences.” In “Explorations in Cognitive Literary Science,” ed. Michael Burke and Emily T. Troscianko. Special issue, Journal of Literary Semantics 42: 141-48.

2013. “Cognitive Realism and Memory in Proust’s Madeleine Episode.” Memory Studies 6: 437-56. (Full-text draft here.)

2012. “The Cognitive Realism of Memory in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.” Modern Language Review 107: 772-95.

2010. “Kafkaesque Worlds in Real Time.” Language and Literature 19: 171-91.



Troscianko, Emily T. 2009-. A Hunger Artist.


Eating disorders and medical humanities in the media

2015. “Bodies, Minds, and Words: A New Collaboration.” Blog post for Beat.

2014. “Prose or Prozac?” Blog post for What Literature Knows About Your Mind.

2014. Priory Group. “Searching for ‘Thinspiration’ Online.”


Literature research in the media

“Proust e le memorie involontarie: un problema di definizione.” Roberta Fulci in Le Scienze, 2.3.2013.

“L’épisode de la madeleine de Proust n’est pas ce que vous croyez.” Charlotte Pudlowski on Slate.fr, 28.2.2013.

“Proust’s madeleine study argues the episode is only kinda accurate about memory.” Joe Satran in The Huffington Post, 27.2.2013.

“Was Proust really a neuroscientist?” Christian Jarrett in The British Psychological Society Research Digest, 26.2.2013.


Book reviews

2014. Review of Kafka for the Twenty-First Century by Stanley Corngold and Ruth V. Gross (eds), Austrian Studies 21: 228-30.

2013. Review of Ist das Kafka? 99 Fundstücke by Reiner Stach, Modern Language Review 108: 666-67.

2012. Review of Franz Kafka: Narration, Rhetoric, and Reading by Lothe, Sandberg, and Speirs (eds), Modern Language Review 107: 987-89.

2011. Review of Kafka und der Film by Peter-André Alt, Modern Language Review 106: 593-94.

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.


Conference report

2012. “Cognitive Perspectives on Immersion.” Report on Immersion and the Storyworld, St John’s College, Oxford, 25-26.6.2012, Journal of Literary Theory.



Popular non-fiction

Hart-Davis, Adam, and Emily Troscianko. 2006. Taking the Piss: A Potted History of Pee. Stroud: Chalford.

Hart-Davis, Adam, and Emily Troscianko. 2002. Henry Winstanley and the Eddystone Lighthouse. Stroud: Sutton.

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