Depsychologizing/deneurologizing modern subjectivity?

Karin Lesnik-Oberstein will be speaking at a one-day symposium at the University of Ghent on 8th January:

What does it means to become the (neuro)psychologist of one’s own life? If something is not working in our education, in our marriage, in our work and in society in general we turn to the (neuro)psy-sciences. But is the latter’s paradigm precisely not relying on feeding neuro-psychological theories into the field of research and action? Isn’t therefore psychology not always already psychologization, and is, concomitantly, neuroscience not always already neurologisation?

The plea to depsychologize and to deneurologize modern subjective is hence rapidly uttered. If you want to know something about man, don’t study the human, don’t study psychology, study psychologization, don’t study neuroscience, study neurologization… This is however, the place where the snake might bite its own tail. The defiance is hence to make sense off, to deconstruct, to transcend, to stumble over, to reformulate, to politicize, to de-academify, to decenter, to theorize, to bring back to the praxis… the paradoxes of (neuro)-psy critique.

This one-day symposium brings together psychologists, psychoanalysts, philosophers and educationalists to reflect on the centrality of the (neuro)psy slope of modern subjectivity and its consequences for critique. The closing event of the day is the book launch of Jan De Vos’s book Psychologization and the Subject of Late Modernity (Palgrave).

Aphra Behn as a scientific translator

‘No Tincture of Learning?’: Aphra Behn as (Re)Writer and Translator

Alison Martin (University of Reading; Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg) recently gave a lecture at UCL on the seventeenth-century writer Aphra Behn (1640-89) as a scientific translator. Behn was one of the foremost female writers and translators in Europe of her time. Best known as the author of the short novel Oroonoko (1688), she was also an energetic translator and produced English renderings of classical and contemporary authors, not least Bernard de Fontenelle’s work on astronomy, the Entretiens sur la Pluralité des Mondes (1686), which appeared as A Discovery of New Worlds two years later. In this lecture Alison explores how Behn styled herself as a female translator of early scientific writing, before comparing her with British women working in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who similarly contributed to the ‘feminisation’ of science and the circulation of scientific knowledge to a wider readership through their translation activities.

Rossetti, Ruskin and Science

John Holmes has recently published two short articles from his work on the Pre-Raphaelites and science:

In an essay for a special issue of the Review of the Pre-Raphaelite Society on Dante Gabriel Rossetti, I discuss how Rossetti engaged with science in his early poetry. The Pre-Raphaelites as a group often identified science as a model for their art, but Rossetti himself was doubtful about this aspect of their project and disavowed any interest in or understanding of science in his own day. Yet his early poems make surprisingly frequent and inventive use of scientific concepts. Appropriately for a painter and a poet, the scientific concepts which most intrigued Rossetti were light and sound waves. Rossetti assiduously revised his poems, often eliminating these early interests from them, but if we go back to the earliest published versions, even of such a famous poem as ‘The Blessed Damozel’, we can see that he was much more engaged with science than he admitted.

The place where the Pre-Raphaelite engagement with science found its fullest expression was in the Oxford University Museum, where Pre-Raphaelite artists including Rossetti collaborated with the scientists Henry Acland and John Phillips and the architect Benjamin Woodward to create one of the masterpieces of Victorian Gothic architecture. The Oxford Museum is both a temple to science and a site of practical scientific learning. One of the artists most actively involved in the project was John Ruskin. Ruskin was both an influence on and caught up in Pre-Raphaelitism. A portfolio of twelve designs by Ruskin for windows for the museum survives. In an essay for the Ruskin Review and Bulletin, I show how these designs, drawn in 1855 before the foundations were laid, reveal Ruskin’s role in directing the carving of two windows in particular by Woodward’s master-mason, the brilliant James O’Shea.

To read John Holmes’s articles, click below: