Medical Visions of Modernism--update

full name / name of organization: 
42nd Annual NeMLA, New Brunswick, NJ at Rutgers University

The emerging disciplines of psychology, neurology, phrenology, and finally psychoanalysis at the end of the nineteenth century supplied the modernist project in literature with new perspectives of the human subject and also with new languages, new idioms and vocabularies with which to describe the structure of subjectivity and its images, perceptions, and sensations. This panel seeks to explore the relationship between emerging medical disciplines and Modernism. We are particularly interested in papers which explore the role of language--and its limits--in articulating illness in literary fiction, medical treatises, and film studies. The panel invites papers that address the following questions: What are the limits of language in communicating sensation, notably pain? How and why do both clinical discourses and fictional narrative rely on poetic tropes to depict the consciousness of the patient and protagonist respectively? How can language serve as both a conduit to a cure and as symptom of illness? In which ways do the languages of the sciences and fiction intersect?

Suggested topics:
The breakdown of the binaries of mental/physical, sensible/intelligible, doctor/patient, madness/genius; the writing of synesthesia and anesthesia; the dream work; non-Saussurean grammars of sensation; the use of metaphors and poetic tropes in the expression of pain in both medical and literary narratives; the language of sensations and the exploring of a 'sixth sense;' Modern literature that meditates on illness and its relation to fiction (Woolf's "On Being Ill"); depictions of pain in film and film theory; the aestheticization of illness (hysteria, neurasthenia, somnambulism) and medical spaces (clinics, asylums, hospitals); illness as a metaphor.

Deadline: September 30, 2010. Please include with your abstract
your name, affiliation, and email address.