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Episode 10 - We are what we read, with Dr Charlotte Lee

In this episode we discover how words move us. Literally. Dr Charlotte Lee is a Senior Lecturer in German at the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge, but just lately she’s stepped beyond her academic boundaries to ask everyone from neuroscientists, to dancers, to tiny children, more about the transporting power of poetry. Working in three languages, and across disciplines, her current research tries to discover how writers make us physically feel things that we only read about, and how our brain dances along to textual rhythms even when our bodies remain sitting still in a library chair. From the Ancient Greeks to nursery rhymes to hip hop, literature is always moving to the beat. But we’re only just discovering where it could take us. Learn more: Find out more about the New Hall Art Collection, the location for this episode, here The 'Watching Dance' project ( is an excellent resource for understanding principles such as kinesis and kinaesthetic empathy as discussed in this episode. 'Dance of the Muses' ( offers danced reconstructions of Ancient Greek choral poetry. At Cambridge, the Baby Rhythm Project of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education ( is elucidating the central role of rhythm in language acquisition in babies. Charlotte Lee's 2017 article on Klopstock and Goethe explores the relationship between poetry and movement (MOVEMENT AND EMBODIMENT IN KLOPSTOCK AND GOETHE - Her first book, also discussed in this episode, is a study of Goethe's last works and can be found here: (

About Thoughtlines

Thoughtlines brings you the best academic thinking outside the box from CRASSH at the University of Cambridge. The podcast is presented by Catherine Galloway and produced by Carl Homer at Cambridge TV. The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) is an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Cambridge. Founded in 2001, CRASSH came into being as a way to create interdisciplinary dialogue across the University’s many faculties and departments in the arts, social sciences and humanities, as well as to build bridges with scientific subjects. It has now grown into one of the largest humanities institutes in the world and is a major presence in academic life in the UK. It serves at once to draw together disciplinary perspectives in Cambridge and to disseminate new ideas to audiences across Europe and beyond. Access more episodes, subscribe, and learn more.