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Elaine Scarry (born 30 June 1946), a professor of English and American Literature and Language, is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. Her interests include Theory of Representation, the Language of Physical Pain and Structure of Verbal and Material Making in Art, Science and the Law.

She is the author of The Body in Pain which is known as a definitive study of pain and inflicting pain.[1] She argues that physical pain leads to destruction and the unmaking of the human world, whereas human creation at the opposite end of the spectrum leads to the making of the world.

Her 1999 study, Dreaming by the Book won the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism.

In 1998, Elaine Scarry, a non-scientist, authored an article The Fall of TWA 800: The Possibility of Electromagnetic Interference which appeared in The New York Review of Books. The article's basic theory - which does not enjoy support from most scientists or engineers - is that electromagnetic interference from a P-3 Orion aircraft may have been responsible for the center fuel tank explosion. Scarry subsequently published another article hypothesizing that another infamous plane crash, that of EgyptAir 990, was caused by electromagnetic interference of the type that could result from transmission from a military source in the vicinity of the crash. This article, entitled "The Fall of EgyptAir 990," was also published in The New York Review of Books, October 5, 2000. In a critique of Ms. Scarry's hypothesis, Professor Didier de Fontaine, Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley, discusses what he views as the less than scientific bases of Scarry's "unfriendly skies" scenarios, and concludes that she has engaged in "voodoo science." [2].




  • Who Defended the Country? A New Democracy Forum on Authoritarian versus Democratic Approaches to National Defense on 9/11 (2003)
  • "The Fall of EgyptAir 990", The New York Review of Books, (2000)
  • On Beauty and Being Just (1999)
  • The Fall of TWA 800: The Possibility of Electromagnetic Interference (1998)
  • Dreaming by the Book, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1999.
  • Literature and the Body (1988)
  • The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World, Oxford University Press, 1985.
  • Resisting Representation (1994)


  • Fins de Si├Ęcle (1995)
  • Memory, Brain and Belief, eds. Daniel L. Schacter and Elaine Scarry, Harvard University Press, 2002.



  1. ^ Pollock, Della. Telling Bodies, Performing Birth. 1999: Columbia University Press. p. 120.
  2. ^ "Concerning the Fall of TWA 800, Swissair 111 and EgyptAir 990: The Unfriendly Skies Scenario," Didier de Fontaine.


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