G. Gabrielle Starr

President of Pomona College; McConnell Professor of Human Relations; Professor of English and Neuroscience
With Pomona Since: 2017
  • Expertise


    I work on aesthetics: how human beings engage with not just the content of art works, but how artworks affect us physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. I also work on how objects in the natural world have aesthetic effects too. I do this using the tools of neuroscience and behavioral psychology, as well as from the perspectives of philosophy and criticism.

    I enjoy teaching, writing about, and reading poetry, and write and teach about 18th-century British literature and literary form.

    Research Interests

    • Neuroaesthetics
    • Aesthetics
    • Poetry
    • Literary Form
    • Literary History
    • British Literature

    Areas of Expertise

    • Neuroaesthetics
    • Aesthetics
    • Poetry
    • Literary Form
    • Literary History
    • British Literature
  • Work


    “Imaging the Subjective”
    Neuroaesthetics in Focus, ed. Anjan Chatterjee and Eileen Carrillo (forthcoming, Oxford University Press)
    (Edward A. Vessel and G. Gabrielle Starr)

    “Form and Perception: Wallace Stevens and Cognitive Perspectives on Aesthetics”
    Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens, ed. Barry Eeckhout and Gül Han. New York: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)

    “Progress and Promise in Neuroaesthetics”
    Neuron (forthcoming, 25 November 2020)
    (Kyohito Iigaya, John P. O’Doherty, G. Gabrielle Starr)

    Further Reading, ed. Matthew Rubery and Leah Price. New York: Oxford University Press (2020): 282-293.
    (G. Gabrielle Starr and Amy M. Belfi)

    “The default-mode network represents aesthetic appeal that generalizes across visual domains”
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 116:38 (2019), 19155-19164.
    (Edward A. Vessel, Asye Ilkay Isik, Amy M. Belfi, Jonathan L. Stahl, G. Gabrielle Starr)

    “Dynamics of aesthetic experience are reflected in the default-mode network”
    NeuroImage 188 (2019): 584-597.
    (Amy M. Belfi, Edward A. Vessel, Aenne Brielmann, Ayse Ilkay Isik, Anjan Chatterjee, Helmut Leder, Denis G. Pelli, G. Gabrielle Starr) 

    Stronger shared taste for natural aesthetic domains than for artifacts of human culture” Cognition (2018)
    (Edward A. Vessel, Natalia Maurer, Alexander H. Denker, and G. Gabrielle Starr)

    “Rapid timing of musical aesthetic judgments”
    Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (2018): 147:10, 1531-1543
    (Amy M. Belfi, Anna Kasdan, Jess Rowland, Edward A. Vessel, G. Gabrielle Starr, David Poeppel)

    “Cognitive Literary Criticism”
    Companion to Literary Theory, ed. David Richter
    London: Wiley (2018): 408-22. 

    The SAGE Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development, ed. Marc H. Bornstein, Martha E. Arterberry, Karen L. Fingerman, and Jennifer E. Lansfords
    Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE (2018)

    Individual ratings of vividness predict aesthetic appeal in poetry
    Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts (2017)
    (Amy M. Belfi, Edward A. Vessel, and G. Gabrielle Starr)

    “Motion in Stevens and Frost”
    The Wallace Stevens Journal 44:1 (2017): 90-92

    “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 (2015): 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”
    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

    “Personalized Visual Aesthetics”
    (Edward A. Vessel, Jonathan Stahl, Natalia Maurer, Alexander Denker, G. Gabrielle Starr)
    Proceedings of SPIE: Quality of Experience: Cognition, Emotion and Aesthetics 9014 (2014). doi:10.1117/12.2043126

    “Art Reaches Within: Aesthetic Experience, the Self and the Default Mode Network”
    (Edward A. Vessel, G. Gabrielle Starr and Nava Rubin; “Tier 2”—invitations for Tier 2 publication are extended to authors whose research received highest ratings in Frontiers journals; refereed)

    Frontiers in Neuroscience 7:258 (2013). doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00258

    “Dreaming the Aesthetic”
    Nonsite, “The Tank: Michael Clune” (2013):

    “Evolved Reading and the Science(s) of Literary Study”
    Critical Inquiry (Winter 2012): 418-25

    “The 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

    The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, ed. Roland Greene
    Princeton: Princeton University Press (2012): 393-94

    The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, ed. Roland Greene
    Princeton: Princeton University Press (2012): 1290-92

    “Ovid, Burney, and the Value of the Beautiful” 
    Eighteenth-Century Fiction 24:1 (Fall 2011): 77-104
    (Nominated by Eighteenth-Century Fiction for the James L. Clifford Prize, 2012-13)

    “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

    “Multi-sensory Imagery” (invited)
    Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies, ed. Lisa Zunshine (275-91)
    Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010 

    “Poetic Subjects and Grecian Urns: Close Reading, Subjective Response, and the Tools of Cognitive Science”
    Modern Philology 105:1 (August 2007): 48-61

    “Poetic Making and the Limits of Tropes: A Response to Brett Bourbon”
    Modern Philology 105:1 (August 2007): 44-7

    “Cavendish, Aesthetics, and the Anti-Platonic Line”
    Eighteenth-Century Studies 39:3 (Spring 2006): 295-308

    “Objects, Imaginings, and Facts: Going Beyond Genre in Behn and Defoe”
    Eighteenth-Century Fiction 16:4 (July 2004): 499-518

    “Ethics, Meaning, and the Work of Beauty”
    Eighteenth-Century Studies 35:3 (Spring 2002): 361-378
    (reprinted in Proust: Modern Critical Interpretations)

    “Clarissa’s Relics and Lyric Community”
    Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 30 (2001): 127-151

    “Love’s Proper Musick: Lyric Inflection in Behn’s Epistles” 
    Aphra Behn: Identity, Alterity, Ambiguity
    Paris: L’Harmattan, 2000: 111-124

    “Rereading ‘Prose Fiction’: Lyric Convention in Aphra Behn and Eliza Haywood” 
    Eighteenth-Century Fiction 12:1 (October 1999): 1-18

  • Education


    Postdoctoral Instructor
    Division of Humanities and Social Science
    California Institute of Technology
    Pasadena, CA USA

    Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language 
    Harvard University 
    Cambridge, MA USA

    Robert T. Jones Scholar
    University of St Andrews
    St Andrews, Scotland
    B.A./M.A. Women’s Studies
    Emory University
    Atlanta, GA USA 

  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    • American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    • Guggenheim Fellowship
    • Mellon New Directions Fellowship