05 March 2012

Call for Papers: Technique, Technology and Therapy in the Medicine of Mind and Brain, 1850-2011

We invite abstract submissions for an interdisciplinary workshop, which will be held at Clarkson University on May 4th and 5th, 2012.

Handling the brain; examining the body; preparing capillary tubes; dissecting a rat hippocampus; sectioning and staining tissue samples; stereoscopy; freezing microtomes; electroencephalography; cinematography; psychometric tests; fMRI; psychoactive drugs – these are but a few examples of techniques, technologies and therapies that have had enormous import in the medicine of the mind and brain. While receiving increasing attention over the past several decades, the clinical specialties that deal with the brain and the mind – psychiatry, psychology, neurology, neurosurgery – have mostly been discussed in isolation of one another. We therefore propose a workshop that brings together scholars who are interested in these medical specialties to address the complicated relationship between medical practice and the techniques, technologies, and therapies that inform it.

From talk therapy to stem cell therapy, from X-rays to fMRIs, from subtemporal decompression to deep-brain stimulation, over the past century and a half different kinds of techniques and technologies have shaped clinical practice and medical epistemology, while at the same time staging an intervention in the doctor-patient relationship and buttressing the cultural authority of the medical specialties of the mind and brain. Such techniques, technologies, and therapies open puzzling historical, sociological, and anthropological questions: What is the relationship between technique, technology and therapy? How have each separately constructed the medicine of the mind and brain? In what ways have they informed scientific knowledge and clinical practice? How are they circulated, exchanged, moved, and commodified? Is there an easy translation among them; are there evident disruptions and slippages between them? By inviting scholars to discuss case studies that address specific techniques and technologies, we seek to train an analytic spotlight on therapy and to shed light on the ways in which therapy played a similar or different role in the history of each of the specialties that focused on mind and brain medicine. We invite papers that explore these questions empirically or theoretically from any disciplinary perspective.

Located in Potsdam, NY, Clarkson University is a small engineering university just north of the Adirondack Mountains. Potsdam can be easily reached by car from Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal or by first flying to Ottawa, Montreal, Albany, or Syracuse and then renting a car and driving from those locations.

Please send a 300-word abstract by March 16th, 2012 to Stephen Casper and Delia Gavrus (StephenTCasper@gmail.com)

Stephen T Casper (Humanities & Social Sciences, Clarkson University)                  
Delia Gavrus (Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University)

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