|2012-2015||Doctoral Candidate at the Graduate School of North American Studies (FU Berlin)|
|2012||Magister Artium (M.A.) degree from Freie Universität Berlin|
Student of North American Studies at John F. Kenedy Institute (FU Berlin)
|2006-2010||Student of Comparative Literature (AVL) at Peter Szondi-Institut (FU Berlin)|
|2012||Willi Paul Adams Prize for best M.A. thesis of 2011 at John F. Kennedy Institute|
|2010-2012||Deutscher Literaturfonds translation grant (renewed 2011) for the translation of Volume II of Peter Weiss's The Aesthetics of Resistance (forthcoming from Duke University Press)|
|2008-2009||Fulbright travel grant|
|2008-2009||FU Berlin and Duke University direct exchange grant|
While Western conceptions of subjectivity have typically opposed the immaterial “I” to the physical body, recent decades have seen increased efforts to redefine the self as the product of material entities and processes. This shift has been primarily driven by scientific and medical fields such as neuroscience and evolutionary biology. Their focus on genetic, biomolecular, and neural levels of analysis constitutes a new materialism that views the human mind as mutable, measureable, and, perhaps most importantly, amenable to physical manipulation.
In memoirs of mental illness and drug addiction or novels that grapple with the implications of recasting consciousness and character as biomedical phenomena, contemporary American authors have been developing their own conceptions of somatic selfhood. Building on this observation, my dissertation examines the sources, forms, and functions of materialist models of mind in texts by authors like Michael Clune, Kay Redfield Jamison, Siri Hustvedt, Don DeLillo, and David Foster Wallace.
United by their shared interest in the plastic and modular nature of brain and self, the texts I examine operate in conjunction as well as in contrast with scientific and medical discourses. Cellular and molecular determinants of behavior and experience complement social and psychological explanatory models as authors and characters confront the plurality of agencies that make up human subjectivity. In the process, the subject relinquishes some of its volition and decision-‐making powers to brain and body, opening up the prospect that the corporeal may gain primacy over the cogito. Yet this shift also emphasizes the importance of self-‐narration and self-‐responsibility, since coming to terms with the mutable and susceptible cerebral subject requires a renewed commitment to (social and individual) attentiveness and care. We may be subjects of substance, these texts suggest, but as such, we are also always open onto the world.