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Call for Papers
Transportation & Maps
Hugh Culik (Michigan Humanities Council)
Modern neuroscience evolves through a discourse that increasingly relies on notions of biological function. The history of the discipline understands that shift as beginning with the phrenologists, accelerating with the work of Broca, and re-problematized by Kurt Goldstein's study of brain-injured soldiers in World War I. Throughout this evolution, the fundamental task increasingly turned to how the nervous system works rather than what it is; philosophy was displaced by concern with biological and adaptive functions. This shifting question about the representational strategies within the emerging disciplines of neurology and neurolinguistics resonates with similar concerns in mathematics and psychology during that same time. That Beckett finds these discursive shifts useful to his own interest in the limits of language has been well documented. Aggregating Beckett, neurolinguistics, mathematics, and neurology points to a general crisis in representation that has afflicted Western culture, a crisis distributed throughout its prominent discourses. The anxiety of representation and the strategies that contain the threats implicit in those anxieties is embedded in Beckett's use of the threads that makes these discourses kindred. It is both Beckett's place in this network and the network itself that can be understood through his fiction.
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