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G. Gabrielle Starr

Gabrielle Starr

Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts and Science; Professor of English

Ph.D. 1999, Harvard; M.A. 1993, Emory University; B.A. 1993.

Office Address: 

19 University Pl, 513 New York, New York (US) 10003


(212) 998-8100


(212) 995-4019

Areas of Research/Interest: 

Eighteenth-Century literature; neuroaesthetics; materialism and aesthetics; imagination; the interrelationship of novel and lyric; Ovid and the eighteenth century

External Affiliations:

American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; Association for Psychological Science; Modern Language Association; Society for Literature, Science and the Arts; Society for Neuroscience


Prof. Starr is a scholar of eighteenth-century British literature and of aesthetics, as well as a researcher in experimental aesthetics, using the tools of cognitive neuroscience, behavioral psychology, and the humanities together, to explore the contours of aesthetic experience. Her first book, Lyric Generations (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), is a history of the interrelation of lyric poetry and the early British novel, in which she argues for the need to understand the history of changes in literary form as emerging from cross-generic interactions. More recently she has engaged in empirical and theoretical work in aesthetics. Her most recent book is Feeling Beauty (MIT Press, 2013), and it explores the ways our responses to the Sister Arts of painting, poetry and music are mediated by brain-based reward processes and by the default mode network. This work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in the form of a New Directions Fellowship to facilitate training in neuroscience, as well as by an NSF-ADVANCE grant (jointly with Nava Rubin) at NYU. She is currently director of a three-year, collaborative international project on brain responses to music, painting, and literary imagery.


Guggenheim Fellow 2015; Finalist, 2014 Christian Gauss Award, for Feeling Beauty; NSF Advance Grant for Women in Science 2009; Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship, 2003-04; Golden Dozen Teaching Award, NYU; Mellon Foundation Dissertation Completion Grant, 1998-99; Harvard University Graduate Prize Fellowship, Fall 1997; Annie Dexter Travel Fellowship, 1997; Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Harvard University, Fall 1996 and Spring 1997; Robert T. Jones Visiting Scholar, St. Andrews University, 1993-94; Alexander Means Scholar, Emory University, 1989-93.

"Aesthetics and Impossible Embodiment: Stevens, Imagery and Disorientation" The Wallace Stevens Journal 39:2 (2015): 157-81.

“Theorizing Imagery, Aesthetics, and the Idea of Double Direction” The Oxford Companion to Cognitive Approaches to Literature, ed. Lisa Zunshine, New York: Oxford University Press (2014): 246-68

“Neuroaesthetics: Art”, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, second edition, ed. Michael Kelly, New York: Oxford University Press (2014) 4:487-91

Aesthetics and Taste: The Beautiful, the Sublime, and Beyond in the Eighteenth Century, in A Companion to British Literature: Volume III: Long Eighteenth-Century Literature 1660-1837, ed. Robert DeMaria, Jr., Heesok Chang, and Samantha Zacher London: Blackwell (2014): 258-76

"Art reaches within: aesthetic experience, the self and the default mode network" (Edward A. Vessel, G. Gabrielle Starr and Nava Rubin) Frontiers in Neuroscience 7:258 (2013). doi: 10.3389/fni

Feeling Beauty: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience (MIT Press, 2013)

"This is Your Brain on Art: Intense Aesthetic Experience Activates the Default Mode Network” (Edward A. Vessel, G. Gabrielle Starr and Nava Rubin) Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 6:66 (2012) doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00066
“Evolved Reading and the Science(s) of Literary Study” Critical Inquiry (Winter 2012): 418-25

“Ovid, Burney, and the Value of the Beautiful” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 24:1 (Fall 2011): 77-104
“Narrative and Poesis: Defoe, Ovid and Transformative Writing” Narrative Developments from Chaucer to Defoe, ed. Gerd Bayer and Ebbe Kiltgård (161-77) New York: Routledge, 2010 

"Multisensory Imagery" Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies, 2010.

"Poetic Subjects and Grecian Urns: Close Reading and the Tools of Cognitive Science" Modern Philology 105:1 2007

"Cavendish, Aesthetics, and the Anti-Platonic Line" Eighteenth-Century Studies 29:3 2005

"Objects, Imaginings, and Facts: Going Beyond Genre in Behn and Defoe" Eighteenth-Century Fiction 16:4 2004

Lyric Generations: Novel and Poetry in the Long Eighteenth Century. 2004.

"Ethics, Meaning, and the Work of Beauty" Eighteenth-Century Studies. 35:3. 2002. 361-378

"Clarissa’s Relics and Lyric Community" Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 30. 2001. 127-151.

"Love’s Proper Musick: Lyric Inflection in Behn’s Epsitles" in Aphra Behn: Identity, Alterity, Ambiguity. Paris: L’Harmattan. 2000.

"Rereading Prose Fiction: Lyric Convention in Aphra Behn and Eliza Haywood" Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 12, 1. October 1999. 1-18.

Updated on 11/17/2015