My research focuses on the production and diffusion of medical, philosophical, and literary knowledge between 1670 and 1820. Earlier research examined the study of Italian treatises on emblems between 1550 and 1650 and the notion of writing and the neutre in Blanchot, Foucault, Deleuze, and Derrida.
My interest in tracing the circulation of ideas across different disciplines has been informed by an academic background including DEA degrees in Aesthetics (Paris VIII-Vincennes-St Denis) and Philosophy (Paris VIII-Vincennes-St Denis) and a doctoral thesis presented towards PhD degrees granted jointly in Comparative Literature (City University of New York, Graduate Center) and in History and Civilizations (École des hautes études en sciences sociales). My writings intertwine methodologies of literary criticism, gender studies, the history of medicine, cultural history, and epistemology.
Narratives and Politics of a Diagnosis:
The Construction and Circulation of the Category of
Hysteria in France and England 1730-1820
ICI Project 2008-10
My work examines how perceptions of hysteria are displaced and recalled across literary, medical, and political texts a century before the advent of psychoanalysis. It analyzes processes in the production of knowledge, forms of narration, and modes for the circulation of theories and imaginings. Movement away from theories of supernatural possession and the ascribing of hysteria’s tension to individuals overlap with the birth of the modern subject through emerging conceptions of interiority and Enlightenment visions of society.
Theorizations of nervous illness also participate in the Occident’s perception of itself and the development of the field of anthropology. Tension figures prominently in the very writing and narration of hysteria. Literary and medical texts express and transmit tension to readers in their discussions of the malady. Detailed descriptions of characters’ crises and metaphorical renderings of the illness serve to seduce, frighten, and fascinate, drawing readers into operations of interpretation and insinuation.