[PAST EVENT] "Making the Case"

April 19, 2012
3:30pm - 5pm
Washington Hall, Room 315
241 Jamestown Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
"Making the Case: Psychological Case-Histories, Caring for the Self, and the Pastoral Apparatus in Germany, 1770-1820"

Abstract: Drawing on the tradition of empiricism, observation, and induction from the medical case-histories of Early Modern Europe (historia medica, historia morbi, observationes), the psychological case-history (Fallgeschichte) is born in the second half of the 18th century in Germany through a confluence of genres (the novel, the confession), disciplines (anthropology, medicine, and psychology), subject-types (the philosophical physician), literary-philosophical journals (The Magazin zur Erfahrungsseele, edited by Karl-Philipp Moritz [1783-1793]), and a transformation from a humoral to a neuronal model of the body. In this talk, I analyze some key case-histories (Marcus Herz, Friedrich Schiller, K.P. Moritz) and indicate the function of this scriptural mechanism/form of writing in the construction of and care for the self in the late 18th century, how this "epistemic genre" (Gianna Pomata) contributed to what has been termed a Pastoral disciplinary apparatus (Michel Foucault), and how the psychological case-history was absolutely central to German literature of the period. I close with some more general remarks about the contemporary discussion concerning the "case" and its importance for interdisciplinary literary-cultural historical studies today.