Human memory expert Elizabeth Loftus, once called the “Diva of Disclosure” by Psychology Today, came to campus on Wednesday, Sept. 16, to talk with students in several classrooms and also during a lunch with psychology majors. The larger campus community got to hear her speak in Swasey Chapel at the annual Reid and Polly Anderson Lecture Series.
Loftus has been at the center of debate over issues related to the malleability of the human brain and “repressed memory.” Her work has taken her from research labs to talk shows to witness stands, as she testified as an expert in hundreds of court cases, and she has published more than 20 books and countless articles.
During her two-day stay at Denison, Loftus’ interactions with students were more like comfortable dialogues than lectures, as she discussed her career path and how she came to choose this area of study. She answered questions about the details of her work on false memories and about the attention it has received, including the negatives, like having to manage the personal attacks and name-calling that have come her way over the years.
For the evening lecture at Swasey, the audience was packed with students, and the crowd was wowed by Loftus’ powerful presence and down-to-earth candor.
Ditallianna Patterson, a senior fellow and psychology major, was thrilled to meet the woman she first learned about three years ago in Intro to Psychology. “The Andersons would be so pleased and proud to see all of us there in Swasey. Bringing people like Dr. Loftus to campus is one of those steps that fulfills their vision about the value of education in the sciences,” she said. Sophomore psychology major and education minor Amanda Mendows agreed. “This was a wonderful opportunity for Denison students to be exposed to an expert in a fascinating field.”