Deborah Jenson

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First name: 
Deborah
Last name: 
Jenson
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I take the broad mandate of the humanist very seriously. The overlapping problems of representation and imitation in "mimesis" are at the heart of my research and teaching, but the contexts in which I explore them are diverse. Trauma, as crisis in the continuity of internal representations of the real, reveals the complexity of mimetic experience. Historical transitions to new forms of representation, such as the adoption of the political proclamation by former slaves in the Haitian revolution, teach us to see literary conventions, or literacy itself, with new eyes. Neuroscientific exploration of "mirror neurons" raises the question of whether we form cognitive imitations of others' experience simply by observing their motor actions. In summary, my linguistic, literary, and historiographical skills can be directed to French literature, Haitian studies, trauma and global mental health, or "neurohumanities."

My most recent books are a literary history of the Haitian Revolution, "Beyond the Slave Narrative" (Liverpool UP 2011, paperback 2012, ebook 2013) and a volume on the global legacies of psychoanalysis: "Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Colonial Trauma, and Global Sovereignties" (with Warwick Anderson and Richard Keller, Duke UP 2011). An anthology of the poetry of Haitian Independence, co-edited with Doris Kadish and translated by Norman Shapiro, is in production at Yale UP. I am co-authoring a book (under contract) with Brandon Kohrt, Bonnie Kaiser, and Hunter Keys on trauma and global mental health in Haiti. With Michaeline Crichlow and Pat Northover, I co-edited the "States of Freedom, Freedom of States" special issue of The Global South. Earlier work includes "Trauma and Its Representations" (Johns Hopkins UP 2001), "Sarah (A Colonial Novella" (with Kadish, MLA 2008) and "The Haiti Issue" of Yale French Studies (2005). I am finalizing a monograph, "Mimesis: from Marx to Mirror Neurons," and another book, "From 'Flaubert's Brain' to Firmin's 'Area': Global Approaches to Modern Literary Cognition." I co-direct the "Brain & Society" theme of Bass Connections, and co-direct the Duke Neurohumanities in Paris global education program. Secondary Appointment: Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) Faculty Affiliate: Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS)

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