Posts Tagged ‘ brain ’

Call for Papers: The Victorian Brain

Call for Papers: Victorian Brain 

Victorian Network is an open-access, MLA-indexed, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing and promoting the best postgraduate and early career work across the broad field of Victorian Studies. We are delighted to announce that our eleventh issue (Summer 2016) will be guest edited by Professor Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford), on the theme of the Victorian Brain.

In the nineteenth century, the discipline of psychology, or the science of the mind, underwent a profound reorientation: a reorientation which was both fuelled by contemporary literature, and which influenced that literature’s form and content. Investigating the mind’s workings was the joint project of such diverse parties as authors and poets; natural scientists and doctors; but also the public, as citizen scientists. Phrenology and the legibility of physiognomy remained central concerns. Simultaneously, medical research created a counterweight to eighteenth-century folk psychology and pseudoscience. Observation of mentally-ill asylum inmates offered another route into the human psyche. These asylums in turn experienced restructuring, turning from spaces of “[chains], straw, filthy solitude, darkness and starvation” (Dickens) in the eighteenth century, to institutions implementing “moral management” by 1900. Mid-Victorians discussed the human brain extensively in both popular literature and specialized periodicals, ranging in disciplines from natural and medical sciences to literature and philosophy. The Journal of Mental Science and Dickens’s Household Words are but two examples from different sides of that spectrum. As these widespread discussions destabilized longstanding convictions including the supremacy of the mind and the integrated self, these convictions’ intricate connections to cultural concerns including gender and class grew evident. Investigations in all possible directions proliferated, bringing (especially in the century’s closing decades) rapid disciplinary changes in neuroscience (e.g. through the work of William Richard Gowers), psychology and psychotherapy. 

The examination of human consciousness also occurred in the nineteenth-century novel. The period’s novelists had such a significant part in shaping the discourse on the mind not least because, in the words of Karen Chase, they “did not inherit a supple and illuminating picture of the mind, but […] had to construct it for themselves, taking insights where they found them.” 

We invite submissions of around 7,000 words on any aspect of the theme. Possible topics include but are by no means limited to:

•    The novel as shaping and shaped by discourses on psychology, the mind, and the brain

•    Mental science and poetry; the “psychological monologue”.

•    Animal dissection and vivisection.

•    The brain as central organ of the nervous system, mind and body as connected; the concept of the mental faculties; the soul as (no longer) extra-corporeal; religion vs scientific psychology. The senses.

•    The mind as culturally formed; national and international conceptions of psychology.

•    The gendered brain and its implications (gender as a universal taxonomy).

•    The Victorian mind in childhood.

•    The theatrical brain: displaying thought and memory on the Victorian stage; depicting mental illness and madness; character interiority; psychology and actor training.

•    Altered states of mind: drug use; mesmerism, hypnosis and trance; dreams and daydreams; somnambulis.

•    Memory and/or trauma; memory and objects (from diaries to post-mortem photography). Sites and cultures of remembering and forgetting.

•    Different disciplines and disciplinary developments: evolutionary and developmental psychology. Psychoanalysis: pre-Freudian concepts of the psyche.

•    Mental illness: asylums, “moral management”; depression; delusions; puerperal disorders; links between mental and bodily health.

•    Insanity and the law  (criminality, legislation, fitness to stand trial); the development of forensic psychology; insanity and sensation.

•    Automatism and volition: new conceptions of the unconscious (e.g. as possessing agency); the unconscious vs habit and self-discipline: automatism, responsibility and accountability.

•    4e cognition (embodied, embedded, enacted and extended cognition) and Victorian literature and culture. 

•     “wound culture”: its roots in the industrial nineteenth century, and the attendant renegotiation of private identity in public terms. 

•    Neo-Victorian representations of any issue outlined above.

All submissions should conform to MHRA house style and the in-house submission guidelinesSubmissions should be received by 15 August 2015.


Call for Graduate Student Papers: “Sorting Brains Out: Tasks, Tests, and Trials in the Neuro- and Mind Sciences” (U. Penn, September 2015)

Invitation and Call for Graduate Student Papers

Sorting Brains Out: Tasks, Tests, and Trials in the Neuro- and Mind Sciences, 1890–2015

University of Pennsylvania, Sept. 18/19, 2015

Since the late nineteenth century, scientists have devised an ever-increasing number of tasks, tests, and trials to understand the body, the senses, the self, the mind, and the connections between them. Psychologists, physiologists, neuroscientists, and others have made the relation between functions of the brain and individual personalities and social behaviors a core aspect of their research. For scientists of the turn of the century as for practitioners today, standardized assessments, physiological experiments, and imaging technologies of many kinds have formed the basis for knowledge claims about minds, brains, and people.

How do the ways in which tools of the neurosciences—tasks, tests, and trials—sort people into groups connect to the ways in which they aim to “sort out” psychopathologies? How do the technologies and procedures used to explore minds and brains reflect, inform, and break from the societies and cultures in which they are made and used? How does the object of investigation itself change as these techniques change? In other words, when, why, where, and crucially how did brains and minds become neuronal, neurochemical, distributed, dimorphic, average, imageable, computational, enactive, mirroring, plastic, enhanceable, or combinations of these definitions? And, finally, how have the tasks, tests, and trials that make up a large part of knowledge production in the mind sciences led to a doubled view in which the mind/brain is seen as limited, determined, and inaccessible, and at the same time as expansive, malleable, and understandable?

This conference is a forum to compare, contrast, and continue the histories of tasks, tests, and trials in the mind and brain sciences over the past 125 years. We invite participants to think broadly and deeply about the social, philosophical, political, and ethical commitments that have been reflected, reinforced, denounced, or discarded by these fields. We ask participants to look forward and back in time, to explore how contemporary conceptions of mind and brain prolong and elaborate much older ideas, and how the histories of these sciences can help us understand both continuities and ruptures in theories, practices, and values.


The conference will be hosted on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on Sept. 18/19, 2015. The afternoon and evening of Friday, Sept. 18, will be devoted to graduate student presentations. We invite abstracts for papers that respond to and go beyond the questions stated above. Senior faculty will chair the graduate student panels;all who are interested are invited to attend and contribute to a stimulating discussion.

Invited senior faculty will present and discuss their current research projects on Saturday, Sept. 19. The list of confirmed speakers includes Dr. Cathy Gere (UCSD), Dr. Katja Guenther (Princeton), Dr. Nicolas Langlitz (The New School), Dr. Emily Martin (NYU), Dr. Tobias Rees (McGill), and Dr. Matthew Wolf-Meyer (UCSC). All Friday presenters and other interested individuals are invited to join the audience and participate in discussion.

Contact and Submission

Graduate students or postdoctoral scholars wishing to participate in the Friday sessions should submit an abstract of no more than 400 words to by May 31, 2015. Please use the same email address for any questions you may have. Thisconference is organized by Ekaterina Babintseva, Tabea Cornel, Matthew Hoffarth, and Prashant Kumar, graduate students in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, with the supervision of Dr. John Tresch.

Book announcement – Hypnosepolitik. Der Psychiater August Forel, das Gehirn und die Gesellschaft (1870–1920)

9783412224462Mirjam Bugmann from the Universität Zürich recently publishes her PhD (under the supervision of Philipp Sarasin) on August Forel. The blurb reads:

Der Schweizer Psychiater August Forel (1848–1931), von 1879 bis 1898 Direktor der psychiatrischen Heilanstalt Burghölzli in Zürich und Professor für Psychiatrie, wandte bei Patienten und Pflegepersonal die damals umstrittene Hypnosetherapie an. Forels therapeutisch-wissenschaftliches Wirken war eng mit seinem gesellschaftspolitischen Engagement verknüpft. Dank sozialtechnologischer Intervention entschied sich für ihn im Gehirn die Entwicklung der Menschheit. Das Buch beschreibt für den Zeitraum von 1870 bis 1920 die Abwendung Forels von der Hirnanatomie hin zur psychologischen Therapeutik mittels Arbeitstherapie und Hypnotismus. August Forel wurde damit zu einem der eifrigsten Verfechter der Hypnosetherapie, die gegen Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts auch im deutschsprachigen Raum unter Ärzten und in der Öffentlichkeit kontrovers diskutiert wurde. Die Analyse von Krankenakten und anderen Quellen zeigt Aspekte der damaligen klinischen Praxis und der therapeutischen Inszenierung des Hypnotismus auf.

For more information, click here.

New Book – The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind (Nikolas Rose, Joelle M. Abi-Rached)

Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind

Nikolas Rose and Joelle M. Abi-Rached

Princeton University Press, 2013

The brain sciences are influencing our understanding of human behavior as never before, from neuropsychiatry and neuroeconomics to neurotheology and neuroaesthetics. Many now believe that the brain is what makes us human, and it seems that neuroscientists are poised to become the new experts in the management of human conduct. Neuro describes the key developments–theoretical, technological, economic, and biopolitical–that have enabled the neurosciences to gain such traction outside the laboratory. It explores the ways neurobiological conceptions of personhood are influencing everything from child rearing to criminal justice, and are transforming the ways we “know ourselves” as human beings. In this emerging neuro-ontology, we are not “determined” by our neurobiology: on the contrary, it appears that we can and should seek to improve ourselves by understanding and acting on our brains.

Neuro examines the implications of this emerging trend, weighing the promises against the perils, and evaluating some widely held concerns about a neurobiological “colonization” of the social and human sciences. Despite identifying many exaggerated claims and premature promises, Neuro argues that the openness provided by the new styles of thought taking shape in neuroscience, with its contemporary conceptions of the neuromolecular, plastic, and social brain, could make possible a new and productive engagement between the social and brain sciences.

Nikolas Rose is professor of sociology and head of the Department of Social Science, Health, and Medicine at King’s College London. His books include The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century (Princeton).

Joelle M. Abi-Rached is a PhD candidate in the history of science at Harvard University.

For more information on this book, click here.

Wonder: Art and Science on the Brain (London, Spring 2013)

The understanding of human thought, emotion, behaviour and expression are common to both neuroscience – the study of the brain and the nervous system – and to many artists working across visual arts, music, theatre, performance and film. Wonder brings together the Wellcome Trust and the Barbican for the first time – two cutting-edge organisations from both fields creating a rich season of events that explores and is inspired by where art and neuroscience collide.

Highlights include a music inspired performance lecture by Marcus du Sautoy; Ruby Wax giving a personal insight into her journey from the heights of fame to depression; a film season exploring mental health on the big screen; Salon a Parisian theatrical 19th century styled event that allows you to debate the big topics of 21st century; a science and art inspired Barbican Weekender – and a feast of other events that invite you to think, to explore and to wonder.

For more information, click here.

The Brain and the Mind – King’s College London

How much of who we are is mind, and how much is brain?

The Centre for the Humanities and Health at King’s College London and the Wellcome Trust are putting together a series of debates between neuroscientists, artists, philosophers and analysts. Organized by Lisa Appignanesi and Lara Feigel, this series contains a number of events including the following talks, open to all:

– “The Brain, Free Will and the Inner Life” (18 October 2012)

– “Darwin, Biology and the Brain’s Order and Disorders” (22 November 2012)

– “The Workings of Empathy” (4 December 2012)

– “Autism and the Concept of Psychological Normality” (31 January 2013)

– “The Gendered Brain” (26 February 2013)

– “You Must Remember This” (28 March 2013)

Speakers include Lisa Appignanesi, Simon Baron-Cohen, A. S. Byatt, Imogen Cooper, Tim Crane, Anthony David, David Papineau, and others.

For more information and booking details, click here.

Journée d’étude – Les usages sociaux des sciences du cerveau (Paris)

Journée d’étude

Les usages sociaux des sciences du cerveau

Collaboration de MSH Paris Nord / New York University in Paris

15 mai 2012



Présentation / introduction

9.00 – 9.15


Usages sociaux des savoirs « pré-neuroscientifiques »

9.15 – 9.45 : Rafael Mandressi (CAK, CNRS) : “Usages sociaux et politiques des savoirs “pré-neuroscientifiques” sur le cerveau”

9.45 –  10.15 : Yves Cartuyvels (Fac. St Louis, Bruxelles), « Usages  sociaux d’une lecture biologique du crime à la fin du XIXe »

Discutant : Marc Renneville

10.15 – 11.00 : Discussion

Le genre des neurosciences

11.15 – 11.50 : Rebecca Jordan-Young (Barnard College, New York), « Hardwired for Sexism »

11.50 – 12.20 : Catherine Vidal (Institut Pasteur), « Ordre social et ordre neuronal »


12.20 – 13.00 : Discussion

Usages sociaux des neurosciences (1) : le marketing

14.00 – 14.30 : Didier Courbet (Univ. Aix-Marseille 1) : “Neuromarketing et neurosciences au service des publicitaires : questionnements éthiques”

Discutant : Sébastien Lemerle


14.30 – 15.00 : Discussion


Usages sociaux des neurosciences (2) : l’école

15.00 – 15.30 : Stanislas Morel (Univ. St Etienne), « Neurosciences cognitives et pédagogie »

15.30 – 16.00 : Marianne Woollven (ENS Lyon/Centre Max Weber), « Que se passe-t-il dans le cerveau dyslexique ? Les difficultés en lecture au prisme des sciences du cerveau »

16.00 – 16.30 : Grégoire Molinatti (Univ. Montpellier), « Neurosciences et éducation : quelles épistémologies, quelle théorie du sujet, quelles normativités ? »

Discutant : Samuel Lézé


16.30 – 17.30 : Discussion et conclusion

Discutante : Dominique Memmi

New York University, 56 rue de Passy, Paris 16e arrondissement (métro La Muette ou Passy)

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