Research

My main area of specialization is the philosophy of fiction, and my research is focused on the nature of fictional storytelling and its role in human life. The main reason why fiction interests me so much is that it sits at an intersection between a wide variety of different philosophic topics, like aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and social philosophy. Almost every aspect of human life has some relation to fiction. It is a vital element of how we entertain ourselves, understand ourselves, structure our societies, and communicate. And yet, fiction has historically received almost no philosophic attention, and it is a topic mired in riddles and paradox. So, the philosophy of fiction provides a new and invigorating lens through which to examine human life, human values, and human nature itself. My work, specifically, is intended to provide new, invigorating approaches to how we understand ourselves, as thinking and feeling beings, and the world around us.

Questions that interest me:

  • What is fiction, and what are fictional characters?
  • How can we be emotionally invested in fictions, given that we know they are fictional?
  • What exactly do we experience in response to fictions? Are our experiences with fictions shaped by certain emotions in particular?
  • How do our responses to fictions relate to our responses to other elements in our lives?
  • How does fiction help us connect to one another—emotionally, intellectually, socially?
  • What does the narrative structure of fictional stories tell us about the structure of human life?
  • What are the ethical dimensions of producing and consuming fictional art?

 

A few of my works:

  • “The Paradox of Onstage Emotion”, British Journal of Aesthetics (2014) 54 (3): 357-369.
  • Here is a paper about the how people relate to one another through the creation and dissemination of fictional art
  • Here is the first chapter of my book manuscript, about the nature of our emotional responses to fictional stories

Some of my past presentations:
My current research projects are related to the following presentations. If you’d like to read drafts of these projects, please feel free to e-mail me.

  • “Literature, Readership, and the Relational Self,” Minnesota Philosophical Society’s Annual Meeting, Bloomington Minnesota, November 2015
  • “A Case Study in the Ethics of Storytelling,” Society for the Philosophical Study of the Contemporary Visual Arts, Eastern APA, Philadelphia, PA, December 2014.
  • “Boycotts, Shunning, and Literature,” Minnesota Philosophical Society’s Annual Meeting, Duluth, MN, October 2014.
  • “Stories That Speak To Us,” Society for Women in Philosophy (Pacific Division), Tempe, AZ, November 2013.