- Ph.D., Comparative Literature, New York University
- B.A., Philosophy, Washington University St. Louis
Ellen Esrock is an Associate Professor in the department of Communication and Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Her research investigates the means by which readers and spectators use their sense of touch, movement, mental images, and other bodily processes to expand the corporeal boundaries of the self and enter cognitively and affectively into literature and visual art. This work draws on the cognitive neurosciences and philosophy, as well as the social sciences and humanities. Her second book, The Reader's Eye: Visual Imaging as Reader Response (1994), concerns the role of visual (mental) imagery in the reading of literature. She is currently working on Touching Words and Images, which identifies diverse modes of engaging literature and visual art through the body's somatosensory and interoceptive systems.
She has also published articles on embodied reading and viewing, including "Einfühlung as the Breath of Art: Six Modes of Embodiment," Cognitive Processing (2017), DOI.org/10.1007/s10339-017-0835-4, "The Phantasmagoria of Everyday Life: The Visceral-Somatic Viewer of Hiroshi Sugimoto and Adolph Menzel," in Embodied Fantasies. From Awe to Artifice, edited by Suzanne Anker and Sabine Flach (2012), “Embodying Art: The Spectator and the Inner Body," Poetics Today (2010), "Embodying Literature," Journal of Consciousness Studies (2004), and "Touching Art: Intimacy, Embodiment, and the Somatosensory System,” Consciousness and Emotion (2001).
Professor Esrock was awarded a Harvard Mellon Faculty Fellowship in 1986, an Italian Academy of Columbia University Fellowship in 2003, and a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Ramp Up Grant in 2008 and the Gerome Fishbach Travel Grant in 2009.