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At the juncture of history and literary criticism, Performing the Sixteenth-Century Brain re-examines two books, Hans von Gersdorff's Feldtbuch der Wundtartzney (Fieldbook of Surgery) and Lorenz Fries' Spiegel der Artzny (Mirror of Medicine) that include some of the first visually accurate representations of the body and brain. The central objective of this book is to shift the focus away from the images themselves to their production and interpretation in the early sixteenth century. Kısmet Bell's close readings of Gersdorff's Feldtbuch der Wundtartzney and Fries' Spiegel der Artzny follow the meandering path of the inner senses of common sense, imagination, reason, and memory as these were the mental powers which framed that which was knowable. Performing the Sixteenth-Century Brain describes how the brain was, rather than a radically new discovery, an unintended artifact that emerged through slight shifts in the codes of inscription.
Studied philosophy, German studies, and world literature at Bethel College (2000), thereafter earned an Edwin Erle Sparks Fellowship to complete an MA in German Studies at the Pennsylvania State University (2002). Awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in the history and philosophy of science and medicine under Prof. Dr. Michael Hagner at the ETH-Zürich (2008-2009), and earned a PhD in German studies with a minor in philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University (2011). Dissertation focus: the poetic construction of the brain as a surgical, medical, and social object in the European Renaissance. Most recent publications, "Inscribing the Soul: Cerebral Ventricles as Symbolic and Material Boxes." Knowledge in Boxes. Mattering Press, 2019; Performing the Sixteenth-Century Brain: Beyond Word and Image Inscriptions. Berlin: LIT, 2018; "Gesten und Bilder - Über das Entziffern von Emblemen in der Frühen Neuzeit", in: (eds.) Philipp Hubmann, Till Julian Huss: Simultaneität. Modelle der Gleichzeitigkeit in den Wissenschaften und Künsten. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2013. S. 57-76; Translation (German-English): Michael Hagner, “On the Electrical Excitability of the Brain: Toward the Emergence of an Experiment.” Journal for the History of the Neurosciences, 21:237–249, 2012; "The Performativity of a Historical Brain Event: Revisiting 1517 Strassburg”, in: The Neuroscientific Turn in the Humanities, eds. Melissa Littlefield und Jenell Johnson. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012. S. 49-70; Selections from novel: “The Book of Tom", in: Precarious Parenthood. Doing Family in Literature and Film. Berlin/London: LIT Verlag, 2013, 217-230; “Faithful Bodies: Anatomy and Fugitive Sheets in Wittenberg, 1573-1625”, in: Focus on German Studies, 17 (2010), 3-22.