How Testosterone Allowed Norman Geschwind to Bridge an Intellectual Century

The Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library in Boston is magnificent! But very cold. I guess I brought the wrong clothes, being spoiled by Philly summers (or what shall I call it?).

I have been here for three weeks now, and will stay for one more. I am slowly making way through Norman Geschwind’s papers. Geschwind and his colleagues’ theory from the early 1980s is quite (in)famous among science critics.

Frankly, Geschwind and his colleagues almost designed a Grand Unified Theory of humanity there. The level of testosterone in prenatal life, so they suggested, affects the asymmetrical maturation of a human brain, and by extension one’s immune system, sexual orientation, language abilities, handedness and much more. Continue reading

Meet Me for 4S 2017 in Boston and Hear Me Talk about Intersectionalities

The second conference I signed up for this year is 4S in Boston, August 30 through September 2. I organized what should be an excellent panel on: “Working with/against the Politics of Benevolent Neuroscience.”

Giulia Anichini, Marisa Brandt, Victoria Pitts-Taylor, Oliver Rollins, and myself will give talks. Check out the panel abstract:

Continue reading

Meet Me at Cheiron 2017 and Learn about the Multiplicity of Neuro-Centrisms in Handedness Research around 1900

My paper “Left-Handed Complements: Forging Connections between Handedness, Speech Ability, and Brain Asymmetry around 1900” was recently admitted for presentation at Cheiron 2017, to be held at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS, June 22 to 25.

The program is absolutely terrific!

Check out the (long) abstract of my own talk, to be recycled for Chapter 1 of my dissertation on anatomical theories of handedness in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Continue reading

“I’m Not a Bigot, It’s Just Science”

You have probably already heard of Grace Pokela’s pointed facebook post that dismantles the “science” of transphobia. But just in case you haven’t—and chances are you haven’t, because I myself only learned about it through my brother—you should totally check it out.

It’s important to remind ourselves that “science” can be used quite easily to essentialize socio-economic injustice and culturally specific stereotypes. But it’s not only the misrepresentation of scientific “facts” that is the problem (e.g., denying that there’s more than XX and XY). Sometimes it is the bare attempt of scientifically classifying individuals that is already problematic. Typing humans secures the basis for discrimination, regardless of how fine-grained the categories are. Continue reading

FINAL Set of Summaries: German Colonialism and the Great War—Europe between the Wars—Nazi-Germany and the Second World War

This is the last of my book summaries. Ergo, I’ll have to come up with “real” posts again from now on. Shouldn’t be too hard as I’ll embark on my dissertation research on May 7. Or maybe May 13, after the grades will be submitted for this semester (which is at the same time my last semester of obligatory teaching).

The following set of summaries deals a lot with German empires—during colonialism and Hitler’s rule in Germany. In particular the histories of colonialism contain some exceptionally well-executed and creative works. I must say, as a German, these histories touched me very personally and literally made me cry one time. It’s strange how war seems so far away from my US-American peers. Sure, they haven’t had it on their own continent for many, many decades. Not so the Germans. To this day, my grandmother starts crying when she talks about her escape from Silesia. Continue reading

Second-to-Last Set of Book Summaries: Romanticism and Europe 1848 to the Great War

My oral exams are scheduled for this Friday. I still have two more essays full of European history that I don’t want to withhold from you. My essays for Heidi Voskuhl got increasingly longer and I felt a bit bad about it, but now that I’m studying for exams from my notes, I feel better about it. Guess why. Continue reading

Final Summaries on 20th-Century Science: Feminism and Science

The below essay was at the same time my favorite to write and my last one for my list with Susan Lindee. Concluding my readings in Cold-War Science and Feminism also brings me one step closer to my oral exams on May 6: this was the first one out of three lists that I completed reading. As of yesterday, I have finished all my lists (more essays to follow on this weblog soon).

I have some training in Gender Studies, most importantly through taking classes with Anelis Kaiser, Sabine Hark, and following the NeuroGenderings network, but taking time to (re)read and discuss the below works gave me a new perspective on my own work. I used to have problems calling myself a “feminist,” because I’ve seen a lot of unproductive deconstructivism in the public discourse. The below scholarship, however, together with my teachers and the NeuroGenderings network, offers a glimpse into the development towards productive feminist science critique that does not forget intersectionality—a scholarly project that I want to contribute to. Continue reading

Summaries: Transatlantic Relations & Europe before 1871

It’s a new day and I have another set of book summaries to post. This time, we’re back on my European History list with Heidi Voskuhl, and we’re leaving the realms of women and sexuality history to turn towards transatlantic relations and some more general history of “Germany” prior to the actual founding of the state. Continue reading

Book Summaries: The Remaining 2^2*13 Items from My Brain List

In continuation of the first 27, here are the remaining 52 items of my “History of the Skull, Mind, and Brain Sciences” reading list with John Tresch. It’s a lot of stuff, and I have no idea how he and I shall have a conversation about all of these in a 60- to 90-minute Skype session tomorrow evening, when I’ll already be brain-dead from sitting and working in window-less rooms for hours. But I guess I will be flexible or, better, creatively plastic, and figure out a way to mold or not mold myself to the crazy demands of being a grad student shortly before “orals.” (Less than 4 weeks left!) Continue reading

Book Summaries Cont’d: 20th-Century Sexuality and Sexology

The items below do a fantastic job in connecting the “private” with the “public” spheres—and show that they’re not actually separate spheres whatsoever. Many of these works, I already utilized during a research project on a statistical review of the Kinsey Report. I haven’t had time to revise the research paper that grew out of this project in order to get it accepted at a journal, but I’m positive that this will be easier as soon as I don’t have to read 13 books per week anymore. Just like the reading list on post-WWII US science and second-wave feminism, from which the following items are a part, I worked with Susan Lindee on this research paper. Continue reading