Brainhood, Self-Concepts, and the Perils of Neuroconformity

Friday, October 26, 2018 - 9:30am to 11:00am

Smith Warehouse, Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall, Bay 4, C105

Event Contact

Berko, Katherine

Speaker(s): 
Nima Bassiri, Catherine Reilly, and Deborah Jenson

This faculty panel features three speakers and will be moderated by Rey Chow, Anne Firor Scott Professor of Literature.

This event is also part of a two-day symposium, "Neurodiversities." Click "More Event Information" for the schedule of speakers and abstracts.

Nima Bassiri, "Disordered Conduct and the Moral Economy of Mental Illness in the Nineteenth Century"

This paper discusses some of the ways in which nineteenth-century psychiatrists and neurologists became increasingly concerned with forensically arbitrating the normalcy of a patient’s conduct, rather than attending to her soundness of mind alone. The reason for this, the paper will suggest, is that it was through conduct that a patient could exhibit that indispensable measure of responsibility and capacity to govern herself and her affairs that would ultimately satisfy the conditions not only of moral but also economic liberty — defined through contract freedom and the capacity to manage property — that was so characteristic of nineteenth-century economic liberalism. The paper will offer a brief discussion, then, on the moral economy that informed medical norms for proper behavior in the nineteenth century.  

Catherine Reilly, "Cruel Translation: Psychoanalysis and Worlding"


Is it possible to think the global dissemination of psychoanalysis in the twentieth century on the basis of a “cruelty” (Grausamkeit) imagined by Freud himself and structurally connected to the diverse and asynchronous translation project by which psychoanalysis was made legible on the international stage? This paper interrogates how psychoanalysis and its institutional concretizations (for example: the IPA, Berlin Psychoanalytic Association, Asociación Psicoanalítica Argentina) not only engaged with practical considerations of language in localized contexts, but also produced a picture of the world in turn – a psychoanalytic cartography of sovereign territories and regional networks alike. The legacy of psychoanalytic “worlding” (modalisation, Derrida) is an instructive prelude, warning, and provocation to how a multi-national neurodiversity and its attendant lexicon of difference might be understood.

Deborah Jenson, "Flaubert's Brain: Epilepsy, Mimesis, and Injured-Self Narrative"


“Each seizure is like a sort of hemorrhage of innervation,” wrote Flaubert to a friend. “The center of image formation in my brain suffers a seminal leak, a hundred thousand images erupt at once, in visual fireworks.” His conviction that “something fairly tragic must previously have taken place in my brain box” did not prevent him from trying to squeeze out every drop of his “brain juice” (“cerveau pressé”) onto paper. In recent decades, epileptologists have rushed to diagnose the epilepsy from which they are sure he suffered, but how is this relevant to reading his texts? This paper, tracing epileptic imagery in Flaubert’s fiction, argues that the apparent realism of the “useless detail” as described by Barthes and others in his work disguises the surprising intrusion of autobiographical memory into Flaubert’s work. This autobiographical memory, in turn, anchors a counter-fiction of injured self-narrative: content that is present because incomplete, unexpected, disavowed, fragmented, eruptive, and feared.

More Information
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Friday, October 26, 2018 - 9:30am to 11:00am
Sponsor
Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI)
Event Co-Sponsors
Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS), Health Humanities Lab (HHL), Literature, Romance Studies