About Vanessa

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I am Assistant Professor of English at Brown University, specializing in 19th-century British literature and culture. My work centers on debates over the status of literature and humanistic inquiry in relation to other forms of knowledge. As a Fellow at the National Forum for the Future of Liberal Education, an initiative sponsored by the Teagle Foundation, I have been engaged in considering the significance and future of higher education today. Committed to the value of sharing ideas outside a classroom setting, I organized TEDxBrownUniversity2012 on "Life, Learning, and Liberal Education."

I am also the author of Thinking without Thinking in the Victorian Novel (Johns Hopkins UP, 2012), a book about how scientists and novelists worked together in the Victorian period to rethink the concept of “thinking.”

My work has been supported by a number of grants and fellowships, including a Fulbright Fellowship, Mellon Foundation Fellowship, Javits Fellowship, and fellowships from the New York Academy of Medicine, the Harvard Medical School, DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Fellowship, and the Harvard Society of Fellows.


English, French, German

Areas of Expertise

Literature & Culture, Cognition and the Arts

I'm passionate about

Spreading enthusiasm about literature and art.


Harvard, Yale, Brown

Favorite talks