The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe: Brittleness, Integration, Science and the Great War

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The injuries suffered by soldiers during WWI were as varied as they were brutal. How could the human body suffer and often absorb such disparate traumas? Why might the same wound lead one soldier to die but allow another to recover? In The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe, Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers uncover a fascinating story of how medical scientists came to conceptualize the body as an integrated yet brittle whole. Responding to the harrowing experience of the Great War, the medical community sought conceptual frameworks to understand bodily shock, brain injury, and the vast differences in patient responses they occasioned. Geroulanos and Meyers carefully trace how this emerging constellation of ideas became essential for thinking about integration, individuality, fragility, and collapse far beyond medicine: in fields as diverse as anthropology, political economy, psychoanalysis, and cybernetics.

Stefanos Geroulanos is Professor of History at New York University. He is the author of Transparency in Postwar France (2017) and An Atheism that is not Humanist Emerges in French Thought (2010); co-author, with Todd Meyers, of The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe: Brittleness, Integration, Science, and the Great War (2018); and co-editor, with Zvi Ben-Dor Benite and Nicole Jerr, of The Scaffolding of Sovereignty: Global and Aesthetic Perspectives on the History of a Concept (2017). He is also a Co-Executive Editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas.

With Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, Professor of History, UC Berkeley, as moderator

Co-sponsored by the Berkeley Center for New Media and the Department of History

This event is free and open to the public