Cate Reilly

Catherine Reilly

Assistant Professor of Literature – Duke University

BrainCultures Lab, co-director

Catherine (Cate) Reilly is a scholar of literature and theory specializing in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her research interests encompass comparative modernisms; the interwoven history of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and medicine; continental philosophy; critical theory; Marxism; Cold War Internationalisms; issues of subject formation; and the fraught legacies of deconstruction. Trained in comparative literature, she takes an interdisciplinary and theoretically-informed approach to her writing and teaching. Her work, broadly writ, addresses questions that fall at the juncture of language, aesthetics, and politics.

On the BrainCultures Lab

My research focuses on new approaches to integrating the sciences and humanities, beginning from a firm grounding in the methodological presuppositions of humanistic inquiry. My work attends specially to the history of psychiatry in conjunction with literature and theory from a global and multi-linguistic perspective, looking at how psychiatric typologies organize other forms of human classification (legal, medical, racial). In my current book project, I offer a critical account of the role of modernist writing in the conflicts surrounding the creation of an internationally standardized grammar for the human psyche. This project revises traditional accounts of literature and madness by highlighting interconnections between the literary avant-garde and international classifications of psychic abnormality: from the late nineteenth century to the present Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Unlike thematic studies of madness, my work shows how contemporary lexicons of mental illness are the long-term product of an unexplored confluence between literature, psychiatry, and the encyclopedic Enlightenment endeavor to standardize knowledge about the human subject. This research opens up new questions within the domain of psychopolitics, interrogating how racial typologies and issues of human rights are inscribed within psychiatric classification and may be contested in literary fiction. Participation in the BrainCultures lab will contribute to the completion of my book manuscript and my ongoing interdisciplinary research at the crossroads of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and literature.

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