Pathologies of Motion: Historical Thinking in Medicine, Aesthetics, and Poetics

Pathologies of Motion Book Cover

Pathologies of Motion: Historical Thinking in Medicine, Aesthetics, and Poetics

Kevis Goodman
Berkeley Book Chats

Pathologies of Motion (Yale, 2023) examines late Enlightenment aesthetics, poetics, and environmental medicine as overlapping ways of comprehending the dislocations of historical existence lodged in the movements of bodies and minds. Kevis Goodman (English) explores the ways in which these overlapping forms of knowledge become increasingly concerned with the relationship between the geographical movements of persons displaced from home and the physiological or nervous “motions” within their bodies and minds. Looking beyond familiar narratives about medicine and art’s shared therapeutic and harmonizing ideals, Goodman explores Enlightenment and Romantic-era aesthetics and poetics in relation to a central but less well known area of 18th-century environmental medicine: pathology.

No mere system of diagnosis or classification, philosophical pathology was an art of interpretation, offering sophisticated ways of reading the multiple conditions and causes of disease, however absent from perception, in their palpable, embodied effects. For medical, anthropological, environmental, and literary authors alike, the concept of pathology helped to locate the dislocations of modern mobility when a full view of their causes and conditions remained imperfectly understood or still unfolding. Goodman traces the surprising afterlife of the period’s exemplary but unexplained pathology of motion — medical nostalgia — within aesthetic theory and poetics. She argues that nostalgia persisted there not as a named condition but as a set of formal principles and practices, perturbing claims about the harmony, freedom, and free play of the mind.

Goodman is joined by Steven Goldsmith (English). After a brief discussion, they respond to questions from the audience.

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