Feeling Dis/ease – New Perspectives on Contemporary History

Feeling Dis/ease – New Perspectives on Contemporary History

Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin; Minerva Research Focus Emotions and Illness "Histories of an Intricate Relation"; PD Dr. Bettina Hitzer
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin
Vom - Bis
29.01.2020 - 31.01.2020
Karola Rockmann

The Minerva Research Focus on “Emotions and Illness: Histories of an Intricate Relation” conducted in-depth studies on the emotional history of illness. It had two main topics: the history of cancer and the history of psychosomatics. Cancer has historically been one of the most feared diseases, one that exceeds human imagination and the limits of medical science, while psychosomatics has long debated the power, therapeutic significance, curability, and meaning of emotions.

The concluding conference will take stock of the research focus and offer some ideas for future work in the history of emotions and related fields. It will tackle some methodological issues encountered over the run of the Minerva project, including the question as to how scholars studying the history of illness can gain insights into the experience and significance of emotions, touch, sounds, and smells. For instance, what did x-rays smell like in the 1920s? What kinds of sounds did radiation machines and ventilation systems make? What did lead vests and other protective coverings feel like on the skin? And how did these sensory experiences coagulate into an emotional experience? Though one might consider the study of these phenomena to be a matter for the history of the senses, it is also possible to see them as integral aspects of a history of the emotions that probes the effects that sensory experiences have on how people feel about illness. What theoretical assumptions inform this view, and what methods can historians draw on to address the relation between the senses and emotions?

Contributions will grapple with how these and similar questions can be made fruitful for empirical research on the emotional history of illness and health and for the development of methods adequate to this task. In doing so, they will discuss approaches from other branches of historiography and related disciplines like the sociology of medicine, cultural studies, literary studies, and security studies.

The conference is open to interested scholars. Please register by 20 January 2020 with Karola Rockmann: rockmann@mpib-berlin.mpg.de

You do not need to register if you would just like to attend the keynote talk by Joanna Bourke.


Wednesday, 29 January 2020
15.00 Welcome and Introduction by Bettina Hitzer (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin)

15.30 Sensing: Sound
James Kennaway (University of Roehampten, London): Musical Emotions, Health and Disease since the Enlightenment
Tamara Turner (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin): Moving Feelings: Vibrating Dis-ease through Interoceptive Bodily Practices with Music
Melissa Van Drie (University of Copenhagen): Medical Listening and Its Stages: Of Stethoscopes, Sensory Practice and Sonic Affect
Commentary: Daniel Morat (Freie Universität Berlin)

18.00 Keynote
Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck, University of London): Forensic Sense: Sexual Violence, Medical Professionals, and the Senses
Following Reception with Fingerfood

Thursday, 30 January 2020
9.30 Sensing: Touch and Smell
Melanie A. Kiechle (Virginia Tech): Domestic Environs and the ‘Weaker’ Sex: How the Gendered Sensorium Shaped Nineteenth-Century Public Health
Holly Furneaux (Cardiff University): Treating the Enemy
Commentary: Rob Boddice (University of Tampere)

11.00 Coffee Break

11.15 Narrating Knowledge and Therapy
Volker Hess (Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin): Writing Disease and Medical Recording, 1730–1930
Marietta Meier (University of Zurich): Third Person: Narrating Dis/ease and Knowledge in Medical Texts
Commentary: Kerstin Pahl (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin)

12.45 Lunch

14.15 Narrating Disease
Franziska Gygax (University of Basel): Feeling (and Falling) Ill: Finding a Language of Illness
Kirsten Ostherr (Rice University): Digital Therapeutics, Virtual Health, and Robot Pathographies
Commentary: Elizabeth J. Donaldson (New York Institute of Technology)

15.45 Coffee Break

16.15 Hybridizations
Irmela Marei Krüger-Fürhoff (Freie Universität Berlin): Balancing Neuroprosthetic Regulation and Individual Agency: Written and Drawn Experiences of Living with Parkinson’s Disease and Deep Brain Stimulation
Magaly Tornay (University of Bern): Dreaming Nurses: A Situated History of Psychoanalysis
Commentary: Sybilla Nikolow (Bielefeld University)

Friday, 31 January 2020
9.30 Constructing Objects
Monika Ankele (University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf): Constructing Objects, Transforming Practices: The Sickbed in Psychiatry
Brenda Lynn Edgar (University of Geneva): Projecting Paradise? Some Questions for the History of Emotions on the Therapeutic Use of Images of Nature, 1930’s–Present
Commentary: Jeanne Kisacky (New York)

11.00 Coffee Break

11.15 Constructing Spaces
Annmarie Adams (McGill University, Montreal): Inside Penfield: Emotions, Neurology and Hospital Architecture
Jennifer Lynn Thomas (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign): Landscape as Treatment: Contextualizing the Insane Asylum Movement in the United States
Commentary: Benno Gammerl (Goldsmiths, University of London)

12.45 Lunch

14.00 Predicting and Securing
Alexa Geisthövel (Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin) / Marcel Streng (University of Düsseldorf): ‘Inner Security’: Psychological Diagnosis and Treatment for Criminal Offenders in the Late 1960s and the 1970s
Anja Laukötter (University of Strasbourg): Fear of Fear? Medicine on TV Screens in Postwar Germany: Some Reflections
Anna C. Zielinska (University of Lorraine, France; Archives Henri Poincaré): Distressing Conception: Reproductive Medicine in Israel and Flexibility of Norms
Commentary: Frank Biess (University of California, San Diego)

16.00 Final Discussion
Chairs: Bettina Hitzer (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin) & Rob Boddice (University of Tampere)

16.45 End of Conference


Karola Rockmann

Lentzeallee 94
14195 Berlin


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