Neşe Devenot in stream on location at an ayahuasca retreat. Photo by Tracey Eller for Cosmic Sister

The Role of Experimental Language in Psychedelics
Psychedelic Science 2017
with Neşe Devenot

“This presentation analyzes experimental uses of language in qualitative reports of participant experiences in the context of psychedelic science research over the past century. Although the majority of recent work in psychedelic studies relies on quantitative, objectively verifiable measures, my research demonstrates that psychedelic science is frequently characterized by a necessary reliance on both science and poetics. The process of exploring non-ordinary states of consciousness depends upon the communication of unprecedented subjective experiences — a process that necessarily relies on metaphor and other creative uses of language, since no ready-made vocabulary exists to describe these experiences. For this reason, I argue that linguistic theory and poetic interpretation are as crucial as chemical analysis for generating data in psychedelic science and the scientific study of consciousness more generally. Drawing on my recent scholarship as a Research Fellow with the New York Public Library’s Timothy Leary Papers, I demonstrate that psychedelic scientists have theorized about the experimental value of poetic language since the first wave of psychedelic research in the twentieth century. I connect this lineage to the psychedelic renaissance based on my experiences as a Research Fellow with the NYU School of Medicine, where I joined four other co-authors in collaboratively analyzing patient transcripts for underlying themes. In conclusion, I propose future directions for clinical research based on Dr. Neiloufar Family’s call at Breaking Convention 2015 for renewed scholarship on the relationships between psychedelics, neurochemistry, and language.” -- Nese Devenot, PhD

April 19-24, 2017 — Oakland, California

At Psychedelic Science 2017, the international scientific community will come together at the Oakland Marriott City Center in Oakland, Calif., to share and discover new research into the benefits and risks of MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, ketamine, ibogaine, medical marijuana, and more.

Nese Devenot, PhD is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Puget Sound, where she teaches classes on psychedelics and literature and is also working on her book project, "Chemical Poetics: The Literary History of Psychedelic Science." In 2016 she was awarded "Best Humanities Publication in Psychedelic Studies" from Breaking Convention in the United Kingdom as part of their First Annual Psychedelic Research Awards, and she was also awarded a Cosmic Sister “Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance Grant.” She was a 2015-16 Research Fellow at the New York Public Library's Timothy Leary Papers and also a Research Fellow with the New York University Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study, where she participated in the first qualitative study of patient experiences. She received her PhD in 2015 from the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied psychedelic philosophy and the literary history of chemical self-experimentation (“trip reports”). She is a founder of the Psychedemia interdisciplinary psychedelics conference, and the former editor of “This Week in Psychedelics,” a Reality Sandwich column that reported on psychedelic news in the media between 2011 and 2013. She was a founding member of the MAPS Graduate Student Association, which she moderated during 2011-13, and she has presented on psychedelics at numerous conferences in the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and the Netherlands.

April 2017