Thursday, February 21, 2008

Q & A with Sabine Arnaud

Q & A with Sabine Arnaud

We asked Sabine Arnaud (Department of European and Classical Languages and Cultures), who presents on Wednesday, 5 March on "Narratives of Hysteria and the Shaping of Eighteenth Century Medicine as a Discipline," a few questions about her work:

MGGCHR: What is your presentation's argument?

Sabine Arnaud: My presentation concerns medical observations of hysteria in eighteenth century France and England, studying the various types of traps and ploys that doctors recount, suggest, describe, and initiate. The reading of these texts leads to an analysis of how doctors forge their relationship to the sick body, the illness of hysteria, and medical practice.

MGGCHR: How did you hit on the focus of your current research and what interests you about it?

Sabine Arnaud: I was drawn to the considerable presence of hysteric vapors in eighteenth century plays and novels, and have constituted a large corpus of medical texts on the subjects that have been largely left aside in historical studies and criticism. This subject offers the possibility of juxtaposing major and minor texts and publications and manuscripts, approaching with a variety of literary, political, aesthetic, and philosophical perspectives.

MGGCHR: What is the most interesting place your research has taken you?

Sabine Arnaud: Avignon, a French medieval town in France where popes lived in the fourteen century. Calvet, who was among the most famous eighteenth century doctors and scholars, lived there as well. The archive of the region where I studied is located inside the castle at the papal palace!

MGGCHR: What is your favorite course to teach, and what makes it your favorite?

Sabine Arnaud: My favorite course to teach is French Civilization because students examine an assortment of archival documents, legal texts, and literature, encountering works by art critics, philosophers, and historians.

MGGCHR: If you had the opportunity to invite any living humanities scholar to come speak at the Glasscock Center, who would it be and why?

Sabine Arnaud: I would invite Jacques Ranciere. Ranciere is among the intellectuals I most revere and he was one of my favorite professors when I was in college.

MGGCHR: If you were stranded on a desert island, what material would you want with you?

Sabine Arnaud: I would want notebooks, pens, and dictionaries in many languages. Also pasta, almonds, and coffee!