Since 2012 we have worked together on topics covering voice-hearing (or “auditory hallucinations”), cognitive responses to fiction, personification, and felt presence. Our work combines cognitive narratology, philosophy of mind, neuroscience and psychopathology. In Threshold Worlds we are aiming to take a similar approach to the study of dreams, narrative, and liminal states.
Dr Marco Bernini
Marco specialises in narrative theory, modernism and cognitive approaches to literature. He has a forthcoming monograph on Samuel Beckett and cognition (Beckett and the Cognitive Method: Minds, Models, and Exploratory Narratives, Oxford University Press) and has published on extended and enactive elements involved, explored or modelled by literary narratives including consciousness and the self, writing and material agency, introspective opacity and emotions, complexity and emergence, hallucinations and dreams, interdisciplinary methods, imaginary companions, and experimental studies on reading. Marco has been drawn to dreams for the challenge that dreams pose to classic and contemporary models of the self and self-to-world relations. His work for Threshold Worlds will revolve around what elements constitute the ‘worldliness’ of dream experiences; what happens to the (partly narrative) texture of the waking self in dream states and hypnagogic transitions; how dreamworlds permeate into our waking life (and vice versa); and how artifactual narratives and dream reports attempt to channel dreams’ incomplete yet meaningful resolution.
For more information about Marco, visit his Durham University staff profile here.
Dr Ben Alderson-Day
Ben is a research psychologist who specialises in interdisciplinary approaches to psychopathology and mental health. He has published on sleep and dreaming in his prior work on psychosis and autism, and his focus on Threshold Worlds will cover sleep disturbance, nightmares, sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming. He is also Associate Director of Hearing the Voice at Durham University, an 8-year interdisciplinary research project on auditory verbal hallucinations funded by the Wellcome Trust, and was a contributor to the Wellcome “Hubbub” project on rest in 2014-2015 (the first of the Wellcome Hub projects) He is the co-chair of the Early Career Hallucination Research (ECHR) group: a network of over 150 ECRs worldwide working on hallucinations.
For more information about Ben, visit his Durham University staff profile here.
Professor Richard Walsh
Richard Walsh is a narratologist and founder/director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Narrative Studies at the University of York.
Lucie Treacher is a performer and artist, and founder/director of the International Archive of Dreams in London. The archive, funded by Arts Council England, is the first research-led online archive of dreams where an interdisciplinary team of psychologists and visual designers are coding, representing and exploring dream-worlds.
Dr Armando D’Agostino
Dr Armando D’Agostino is a consultant psychiatrist and internationally-recognised expert in sleep and dreaming in psychiatric disorders. His research spans disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder, and combines methods from functional neuroimaging, psychopharmocology, and descriptive psychopathology.
Dr Sowon Park
Sowon Park is an Assistant Professor in Cognitive Literary Studies at UC Santa Barbara and specializes in modernism and the unconscious. The founder of the Unconscious Memory Network, she is now pursuing her research on the representation of altered states of consciousness, such as dreams.
For more information about Sowon see here.
Mary Robson is a creative facilitator and world-renowned expert in the facilitation of interdisciplinary research projects.
Dr Adam Powell
Adam is an interdisciplinary scholar of religion whose research focuses on cognitive and social-scientific theories of religious experience and identity, with particular concern for how these frameworks help us understand the origins and propagation of minority religious movements. He is the author of two monographs, an edited collection, and several papers at the intersection of sociology, psychology, theology, and history. Since 2014, Adam has been a member of Durham’s Hearing the Voice project and also currently serves as Director of Research at the Institute for Faith and Resilience, a non-profit supporting knowledge and training in the area of religion and mental health.
For more information about Adam, visit his Durham University staff profile here.
Professor Robert Barton
Robert Barton is a hybrid evolutionary biologist/anthropologist/psychologist interested in brains, behaviour and cognition. He uses phylogenetic comparative methods to study how these traits evolved. He developed and tested the ‘Visual brain hypothesis’ for primate brain size evolution and is currently interested in the underestimated role of the cerebellum in brain evolution and cognition. He is a Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and co-Director of the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University.
Professor Charles Fernyhough
Charles Fernyhough is a psychologist and writer. He is a Professor in Psychology at Durham University and principal investigator of Hearing the Voice, an interdisciplinary project on voice-hearing funded by the Wellcome Trust. His research focuses on how ideas from developmental psychology can be utilised to enhance our understanding of adult inner experience and psychopathology.
Professor Paul Armstrong
Paul B. Armstrong is professor of English at Brown University. His research focuses on phenomenological theories of reading and narrative and their intersection with cognitive science. His most recent books are Stories and the Brain: The Neuroscience of Narrative (2020) and How Literature Plays with the Brain: The Neuroscience of Reading and Art (2013). His other books include Play and the Politics of Reading: The Social Uses of Modernist Form (2005), Conflicting Readings: Variety and Validity in Interpretation (1990), The Challenge of Bewilderment: Understanding and Representation in James, Conrad, and Ford (1987), and The Phenomenology of Henry James (1983).
Professor H. Porter Abbott
Porter Abbott is Research Professor Emeritus in English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His publications include two books on Samuel Beckett, The Fiction of Samuel Beckett (1973) and Beckett Writing Beckett (1996); Diary Fiction: Writing as Action (1984); The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative (2002, 2008); and Real Mysteries: Narrative and the Unknowable (2013). He has also edited On the Origin of Fictions: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (SubStance 2001). His on-going research includes authorial intention, emplotment, fictionality, the unnarratable, reading narrative gaps, the representation of madness, and the evolutionary emergence of narrative.
Professor John Sutton
John Sutton is Professor of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University in Sydney, where he was previously Head of the Department of Philosophy. He works on memory and skill, in a range of projects influenced by ideas of distributed cognition and cognitive history. He has recently coedited volumes on Collaborative Remembering (OUP, 2018) andCollaborative Embodied Performance: ecologies of skill (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2021). His recent research addresses embodied knowledge in the Maori haka; distributed creativity in film and music; place and memory; and cognitive change in the Neolithic. He is editing the first full English translation of Maurice Halbwachs’ The Social Frameworks of Memory (1925) for OUP.
Dr Joel Krueger
Joel Krueger is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Exeter. He works primarily in phenomenology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of cognitive science. Recent work has focused on issues in 4E (embodied, embedded, enacted, extended) cognition, including emotions, social cognition, and psychopathology. He also does work in comparative philosophy and philosophy of music.
Dr Sam Wilkinson
Sam WIlkinson works on hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, trauma, and the nature of illness and wellbeing. He also has a general interest in perception, action and emotion as viewed from predictive processing and embodied perspectives, and especially in the way that the mind harnesses social and cultural context to enhance and shape cognition.
Dr David Dupuis
David Dupuis is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology of Durham University and a member of the Hearing the Voice interdisciplinary research program. Conducting ethnographic surveys in the Peruvian Amazon since the last decade, he investigates the globalization of the use of hallucinogenic substances as ayahuasca. His research explores more broadly the relationships between hallucinations and culture in an anthropological comparative perspective
Dr Tehseen Noorani
Based in Anthropology at Durham University, Tehseen Noorani has an interdisciplinary background spanning also Sociology and Science and Technology Studies. He is interested in the phenomenological and epistemic character of extreme, fringe, weird and distressing experiences, and how these experiences are taken up in science and politics. He is completing a monograph tracing the renewed scientific and therapeutic interest in psychedelic experiences in the global North, exploring implications for theorizing pathology and mental healthcare. Tehseen conducted qualitative research with the Johns Hopkins psychedelic research team in Baltimore from 2013-2015, and was a member of the Wellcome Trust-funded project, Hearing the Voice, from 2018-2019.
Dr Guido Furci
Guido received his BA and his Master of Modern Philology at the University of Siena, after which he went on to receive his PhD from the School of Comparative Literature of the University Paris 3, Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris Sorbonne Cité). He also holds a MAS in Literature and Aesthetics, as well as two graduate degrees in Media Literacy and Jewish Studies. Before returning to Paris 3 as Associate Professor in Comparative Literature & Migration Studies (Maître de conférences), he worked for Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD), the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah (Paris), the Swiss International School of Paris and Dijon (where he supervised the Division of French and Italian) and Durham University (Institute for Medical Humanities/School of Modern Languages and Cultures). One of his current research projects is about the possibility of using dreams to come to terms with various kind of concentrationary experiences.Pr
Dr Angela Woods
Angela Woods is an Associate Professor of Medical Humanities and Co-Director of the Hearing the Voice project at Durham University. Working within the critical medical humanities, her research focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to the phenomenology and hermeneutics of hearing voices, and the distressing or unusual experiences associated with psychosis. She is also interested in the role of narrative within discourses and experiences of health, illness and wellbeing.
Professor Sharon Sliwinski
Sharon Sliwinski is the creator and editor of the Museum of Dreams, and professor of Information & Media Studies at Western University in Canada. She is the author of Dreaming in Dark Times (2017), Human Rights In Camera (2011), and co-editor, with Shawn Michelle Smith, of Photography and the Optical Unconscious(2017).
Dr Michelle Carr
Michelle Carr, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Associate in the University of Rochester Psychiatry Department, working in the Sleep and Neurophysiology Research Laboratory. Her research interests center on sleep psychophysiology, disturbed dreaming, and dream engineering (influencing dreams for mental health and wellbeing). She also translates dream science research to the public by writing for Psychology Today.
Dr Giulia Poerio
Giulia Poerio is a research psychologist at the University of Essex. She works on mind-wandering, daydreaming, complex emotional experiences (e.g., ASMR, aesthetic emotions), and atypical sleep experiences (e.g., lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis). She is interested in the continuum of mental functioning from focused waking thought to dreaming and how individual differences in inner experience and emotion impact wellbeing.
Prof Tore Nielsen
Tore Nielsen is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Université de Montréal and Director of the Dream & Nightmare Laboratory (DNL) within the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine. His current research concerns dreaming at sleep onset, the role of dreaming in learning and memory, pathophysiology and dream function in nightmare sufferers, targeted memory reactivation (TMR) effects on sleep and dreaming, and nightmares after early life adversity. His studies employ a variety of sleep research methods including polysomnography, selective REM sleep deprivation, spectral analysis of the EEG and ECG, virtual reality exposure, and internet-based dream collection.
Prof Amanda Ellison
Amanda Ellison is a neuroscientist and physiologist, professor in the Psychology Department in Durham University and Director of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing. Interested in understanding how different brain regions communicate in order to create our behaviour and experience of the world around us, she is particularly absorbed by the reciprocal influences between the brain, the body and behaviour and the biology that binds them together. She has addressed many diverse questions from how we can restore function after brain damage, through rumination, addiction and hallucination to headache, pain and ageing always with interdisciplinarity at the core of her approach.
Affiliated Centres and Networks
The Early Career Hallucinations Research Group (ECHR)
The ECHR is a network of over 150 early-career researchers working on hallucinations and unusual experiences. Spanning 23 countries worldwide, its research covers psychosis, sleep, neurodegenerative disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease), and aging. Our Co-PI Ben Alderson-Day is co-chair of the ECHR, which he helped to found in 2018.
Literature and the Mind (UCSB)
The ‘Literature and the Mind’ Centre at University of California Santa Barbara is a unique interdisciplinary centre and programme having as core members some of our project affiliates (Julie Carlson, Kay Young, Domnique Jullien, Porter Abbott) and our very own team fellow Sowon Park. Marco Bernini has recently become affiliated faculty member at Lit&Mind, and numerous exchanges and collaborations have been occuring between the centre and members of the Institute of Medical Humanities at Durham University. Here is how the Lit&Mind centre describes its mission: “Current developments in psychoanalysis, psychology, philosophy, cognitive science and neurobiology confirm the profound importance of language in structuring the mind’s representations and re-workings of reality. Study of the mind is now one of our most exciting and inventive fields of interdisciplinary research, informed by and informing not only literary criticism and theory but also the study of cultural and social practice. Language is known to play a central role in creating memories, processing emotions, and thinking. Verbal creativity and interpretation are vital to our survival and well-being; constructing narrative, analyzing the past, and creating fictional models are crucial to all human activity, from technological invention to falling in love to planning revolutions. This is why we have always needed, and always loved, literature. When we try to speak the unspeakable–whether trauma or rapture–we call it poetry. When our wishes are unfulfilled, we create legends. When we are terrified by one another, we put ourselves, and our conflicts, on stage, and try to learn empathy. “Literature and the Mind” explores how and why symbolic activity helps us create, rather than suffer from, reality.”
2nd Generation Cognitive Literary Studies
The ‘Second Generation Cognitive Literary Studies’ group formed in 2012, prior to the publication of a special issue of Style in 2014. Since 2014, this network of scholars (with core members Marco Caracciolo, Karin Kukkonen, Marco Bernini, Lars Bernaerts and Merja Polvinen) had numerous panels at the International Society for the Study of Narrative, workshops at the University of Ghent, a writing retreat in Malta, exchanges of invited lectures in Oslo, Helsinki, Durham, and Ghent, and a transcontinental workshop at the University of California, Santa Barbara (‘Literature and the Mind’ Centre). The ‘2nd Generation Cognitive Literary Studies’ network aims at applying ‘second generation cognitive sciences’ to the study of literature. If ‘first generation’ cognitive sciences saw the mind in computational and internalist terms, new accounts in the science of mind stress its embodiment, enactive dimension, embedded nature, and extended possibilities.