On Wednesday December 2, 2015, the Smithsonian Libraries will host its 22nd Annual Dibner Library Lecture featuring Laura Otis.
5:00pm, with reception to follow
Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium
Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets NW, Washington, DC
This event is free, please click here to reserve your tickets, or call 202.633.3054.
The Fantastic World of Nineteenth-Century Women’s Emotions: Two Literary Portrayals
Describing complex human emotions in words has challenged writers of every time in place. The feelings of rejected lovers are especially keen and make for engrossing stories. Two Victorian novelists, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling, combined popular knowledge of science, literature, and religion to create powerful portraits of abandoned women. Although based more on cultural myths than human physiology, their depictions of Miss Havisham and the lady in the phantom rickshaw have had a powerful influence on representations of women’s emotions.
Laura Otis began her career as a scientist, earning her B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale in 1983 and her M.A. in Neuroscience from the University of California at San Francisco in 1988. Before receiving her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University in 1991, she worked in labs for eight years. Since 1986, she has been studying and teaching about the ways that scientific and literary thinking coincide and foster each other’s growth. Otis works with British Victorian, Spanish, German, French, and North and South American literature, especially nineteenth-century novels. She is particularly interested in memory, identity formation, and communication technologies and has been a frequent guest scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. In addition to her academic books, Otis has written five yet-to-be-published novels. In 2000, she was awarded a MacArthur fellowship for creativity.