Events Calendar

Matthew Wolf-Meyer

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
25 p.m.


CHASS Interdisciplinary Bldg South , 1113
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“Therapy, Remedy, Cure:
Disorder and the Spatiotemporality of Medicine and Everyday Life”

Tuesday, 15 May
from 2-5pm in INTS 1113

Matthew Wolf-Meyer is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of the forthcoming The Slumbering Masses: Sleep, Medicine and Modern American Life (University
of Minnesota Press, 2012). He is currently working on two new projects, the first on alternative histories of neuroscience and bioethics in the 20th century, the
second on the history of excrement in the American West.

 Increasingly, there is a temporal differentiation among kinds of treatments available through medicine. The distinctions I draw are these: Cures offer one time resolution of symptoms, that is, with the benefit of a cure, there is no longer a medical problem in need of treatment. Remedies offer temporary, situational relief of symptoms; they are often most apparent in the domain of medical concerns labeled as disabilities. Therapies likewise offer temporary relief of symptoms, but promise the possibility of non-situational fixes, instead offering universal cessation of symptoms—but only for a limited time. The model of therapy is the pill; the pill offers temporary relief of symptoms but requires that the taker continue to take the same pill in the future for the continued alleviation of symptoms. Therapy has become increasingly integral to the rhythm of everyday life, particularly in the United States, where medical treatment and pharmaceutical consumption have become a means for normalizing oneself to social expectations. I draw on fieldwork with those who experience sleep disorders—narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and delayed and advance sleep phase syndrome—to explicate these models and consider how these medical spatio-temporalities formulate emergent everyday orders of life.

Sponsored by the Center for Ideas and Society through a generous grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Workshops in the Humanities

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