Emily’s research spans the cognitive and health humanities, involving methods and principles from experimental psychology, psychiatry, and literary studies. Her main current research project asks how our reading habits shape our mental health, and vice versa. It aims, more specifically, at an empirical mapping of the links between narrative reading and eating disorders. These interests grew out of her work as a Junior Research Fellow at St John’s College, during which she investigated the cognitive-emotional effects of literary reading and published her monograph, Kafka’s Cognitive Realism (Routledge, 2014), on the strange psychological phenomenon of the "Kafkaesque". The project also builds on a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship held at TORCH in 2014-15: a partnership with the eating-disorders charity Beat that generated important preliminary findings about the links between fiction-reading and disordered eating, especially on the power of reading to do harm in contexts of vulnerability. An additional research project involves developing behaviour-focused models of mental illness inspired by dynamical systems theory.
Alongside her research on mental health, Emily provides recovery coaching for people with eating disorders, as well as career coaching for students, researchers, and academics. She designed and ran the Baillie Gifford Writing Partnerships Programme for the Humanities Division between 2018 and 2021, and now offers events, courses, and consultancy on work/life habits as they intersect with writing and wellbeing. She writes a blog on eating disorders for the US website Psychology Today and is coauthor (with psychologist Sue Blackmore) of the world’s only textbook on consciousness.