I am currently working on two research monographs assessing the impact of predictive sciences and sustainability studies on our relation to historical time, memory, and health.
With my third book project I return to sixteenth and seventeenth century French literature and visual arts with Rabelais, Ronsard, Montaigne, Jean Léry, Charles Perrault, Nicolas Poussin, and lesser known European missionaries sent to the Americas. Early/Modern/Futures takes up and develops the idea of a cultural memory of transience introduced in Perishability Fatigue as a means to historicize contemporary politics of termination and conservation. This time, the objective is twofold. First, the book interrogates how concepts debated within early modern studies, such as the notion of anachronism, can redirect our attention to the ways climate modelling, theories of extinction, and predictive science deal with issues of temporality, vulnerability, and transience. Second, it examines how a concept like extinction alters the terms of our contract with the past in early modern studies.
Related Publications and Talks:
2017 “Ice Cold Grief: 1610 and the Orbis Hypothesis,” Panel: “Bordering Perceptibility.” American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference, Utrecht University.
2016 “Terraforming and other Speculative Landscapes.” Panel: “From Extraction to Exhaustion.” American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference, Harvard University.
A narrative of alienation and dispossession (from birth, from death, from our body, from our humanity, from our vulnerability, from ourselves) tends to inform histories of health and medicine: something had to be given up in exchange for a longer life expectancy. Perishability II proposes to offset this narrative of loss justifying the very existence of a humanistic response to biomedical science as a corrective to its excess and failings. To do so, I turn toward French historian of biology Georges Canguilhem’s provocative statement, that there is no science of health. Instead, there is a repertoire of gestures and concepts defining forms of caregiving. There is the temporal horizon against which therapeutic options are imagined, developed, tested, and contested. There is the storied density of a present in which patients and practitioners confront the lived experience of illness. As part of this project, I am especially interested in the notion of cancer culture and its impact on the way we relate to the history of health and medicine.
Related Publications and Talks:
2018 "Cancer Culture avant la lettre." Somatosphere.
2018 “The Lives of Cancerous Men.” Sous les pavés: 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies Colloquium, Brown University.
2017 “Health Humanities in Modern Languages.” Guest lecture at the University of New Hampshire, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
2017 “The Rhetoric of Disability Extinction.” Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, Arizona State University.
2014 “Medical Humanities in the Exhausting Present.” Networking Humanities Lecture Series, University of Southern California.
2014 “Penser les humanités médicales entre culture littéraire et culture de la vie.” Esprit Créateur 54.3 (2014): 106-117. [Special Issue “La pensée littéraire/Thinking Literature,” edited by Oana Panaite.]