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

Lecture | April 4 | 5-6:30 p.m. | Dwinelle Hall, 142 (Nestrick Room)

 Stefanos Geroulanos, Professor of History, NYU; Stefan-Ludwig Hoffman, Professor of History, UC Berkeley

 Department of History, Department of Rhetoric, Center for New Media

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.

 gjohnston@berkeley.edu