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Criminally Insane? Die schwierige Geburt der Hirnforschung

Datum - 25.10.2018
19:00 - 21:00 Uhr

The event will be in english

For the next event in the Frankenstein / Eine Uni ein Buch Fall 2018 program Bard College Berlin warmly invites you to a unique pair of talks followed by a panel discussion at Ulme 35, home of Interkulturanstalten Westend e.V., housed in a beautiful villa that was once “Dr. Weiler’s Kurhaus.”

First, Hardy Schmitz, Vorsitzender des Vereins Interkulturanstalten Westend e.V., will present on the history of Dr. Weiler’s Kurhaus. Gently aided by our imagination, we will see how the generations coming after Shelley’s depiction of the practice of anatomy and medicine actually took up many of the features upon which she perceptively shined a critical eye.

Next, Rodolfo Garau will present on “Making Monsters: Lomboso, Giacommi and the debate in early modern criminology.” Taking his cue from the Monster’s outraged query from near the end of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: „Am I thought to be the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me?” Garau will show how, to a certain extent (and though not by galvanizing assembled human members stolen from a cemetery), nineteenth century-medical sciences in fact succeeded in creating “monsters” of the sort that Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein’s experiment created. Some fifty years after Shelley wrote her masterpiece, some positivist physicians—for instance, Turin’s Cesare Lombroso— believed to have identified the physical traits that made a (wo)man a natural born criminal. The conformation of the brain and the skull, the traits of the face, and even the practice of tattooing, were believed to cause, or display, an innate tendency to perpetrate crime. Crime—before a depraved, yet free, action of the subject—became thus a destiny. Yet, at the same time, other physicians were collecting evidence that could have early disproved, had they been paid the deserved attention, such modern theoretical construction of the “monster.” Focusing on the figure of Cesare Lombroso and his forgotten adversary, the Turinese physician Carlo Giacomini, this talk explores, on the background of Shelley’s novel, some aspects of the emergence of, and controversies around, modern criminology.

Following the presentations, Bard College Berlin faculty member Michael Weinman will lead a question and answer session with the audience exploring the connections between Shelley’s dystopia and the realities of early modern criminology, brain science and psychiatry.

Date & time: Thursday, October 25, 2018, from 7:00pm
Venue: Ulme 35 (Salon), Ulmenallee 35, 14050 Berlin