NESE DEVENOT PhDPostdoctoral Fellow
Nese Devenot, PhD graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 with a doctorate in comparative literature, and she currently serves as Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Puget Sound in the United States. She is a founder of the Psychedemia interdisciplinary psychedelics conference and a founding member of the MAPS Graduate Student Association. She was a 2015-16 Research Fellow at the New York Public Library’s Timothy Leary Papers and a Research Fellow with the New York University Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study, where she participated in the first qualitative study of patient experiences. In 2016, she was awarded Best Humanities Publication in Psychedelic Studies from Breaking Convention and received a Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance grant from Cosmic Sister. Her research explores the function of metaphor and other literary devices in verbal accounts of psychedelic experiences.
Within the field of Psychedelic Studies, qualitative research is a transdisciplinary method of inquiry that seeks to understand how individuals ascribe significance to their psychedelic experiences. In so doing, it complements traditional quantitative methods by A) providing insight into the psychological processes underlying therapeutic outcomes, and B) identifying new, testable hypotheses for future research. With limited funding, new qualitative research projects can branch off of existing clinical trials by analyzing participant journals and/or interviews, as the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study successfully demonstrated. In analyzing these verbal reports of psychedelic experiences, qualitative research necessarily depends on both science and poetics, since the communication of unprecedented experiences and non-ordinary states of consciousness relies on metaphor and other creative uses of language. For this reason, I argue that linguistic theory and poetic interpretation are as crucial as chemical analysis for analyzing data within psychedelic science, highlighting the importance of scholarly collaboration across traditional disciplinary boundaries.