How can scientific theories contribute to contemporary accounts of embodiment in the humanities and social sciences? In particular, how does neuroscientific research facilitate new approaches to theories of mind and body? Feminists have frequently criticized the neurosciences for biological reductionism, yet, Elizabeth A. Wilson argues, neurological theories-especially certain accounts of depression, sexuality, and emotion-are useful to feminist theories of the body. Rather than pointing toward the conventionalizing tendencies of the neurosciences, Wilson emphasizes their capacity for reinvention and transformation. Focusing on the details of neuronal connections, subcortical pathways, and reflex actions, she suggests that the central and peripheral nervous systems are powerfully allied with sexuality, the affects, emotional states, cognitive appetites, and other organs and bodies in ways not fully appreciated in the feminist literature. Whether reflecting on Simon LeVay's hypothesis about the brains of gay men, Peter Kramer's model of depression, or Charles Darwin's account of trembling and blushing, Wilson is able to show how the neurosciences can be used to reinvigorate feminist theories of the body.
Publisher: Duke University Press
Number of pages: 136
Weight: 340 g
Dimensions: 235 x 152 x 13 mm
"It is quite a while since we have heard a voice as refreshing as that of Elizabeth A. Wilson. With boldness, wit, and extraordinary inventiveness, she shows us just how delimiting have been prevailing tendencies in science studies and feminist theory to marginalize, if not outright repudiate, the material, biological dimensions of human psychology. At the same time, by demonstrating the power of reading biological accounts with the eye of a critical theorist, she reveals the limitations operating within the life sciences. Psychosomatic teaches all of us how to do better: how to read neuroscience for the creative lessons it can offer the human sciences and how to employ the insights of the human sciences to open these same texts to dramatically new understandings."-Evelyn Fox Keller, author of Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines
"Wilson's writing is eloquent, considered and thought provoking. . . . In one of her articles, Wilson urged her readers to buy a copy of The Origin of Species as an important feminist text. I certainly endorse this suggestion, but I add my own: buy a copy of Psychosomatic, as it may turn out to be one of the most inspiring feminist works you will read." -- Myra J. Hird * Feminist Theory *