Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Digital Humanities & Literary Cognition Lab
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The Digital Humanities & Literary Cognition Lab (DHLC) at Michigan State University

Founded in 2012 by Dr. Natalie Phillips and Dr. Steven Rachman, the DHLC is a space in the College of Arts and Letters currently devoted to cultivating interdisciplinary projects across literature, cognitive science, and DH, including experiments in literary neuroscience, research in the history of mind, and the development of a creative array of digital technologies for research and teaching. The DHLC currently houses approximately 25 students, both graduate and undergraduate, across colleges, working on cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on novel reading, the neuroaesthetics of poetry, and narrative responses to music. With lab members coming from a wide array of majors including English, Neuroscience, Education, Psychology, Digital Humanities, Engineering, Linguistics, Philosophy, and more, our team brings together a broad range of ideas and methods in a highly unique blend of the humanities and the sciences.

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Our work arose as a result of Dr. Phillips' revolutionary study of reading and attention where she put 18 Ph.D. candidates in a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner (fMRI) to read an entire chapter of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. This study produced a vast load of rich qualitative and quantitative data that required analysis. Thus, the DHLC was created. Since this initial study in literary neuroscience and attention, the lab has been invited to collaborate on multiple national and international projects including a project researching the neuroaesthetics of art, music, and literature in collaboration with New York University (the DHLC is focusing on poetry and literature), and another project on music cognition and narrative perception in collaboration with the University of Arkansas and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. To learn more about each of our projects, please click on our Research Page. 

It is important for us to share our work with you, as one of the main goals of scientific and humanistic research is to circulate the results and make a positive impact on our communities. By sending students to local, national, and international conferences as well as publishing books, essays, and research articles, we aim to make our work accessible and invite feedback as well as opportunities for new collaboration. To find out more about our recent talks and posters, please visit our Home Page to view our featured news. For further reading, please check out our Publications Page.


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If you wish to donate to support the DHLC's cutting-edge research in history of mind, literature, neuroscience, music cognition, and/or neuroaesthetics of poetry, or if you wish to provide funding to support student researchers, please follow the below link. Any contribution is greatly appreciated and, if you choose, we would like to honor our donors by displaying their names on our website's Funding and Donations page (coming soon). Thank you for your support!

Donate Here