Assistant Professor of Literature
My scholarship is situated between intellectual history, the history and philosophy of the human sciences, and critical theory. In my current research, I examine the historical intersections of medicine, law, and politics to see how those intersections transformed not only our definitions of normality and pathology but also our assumptions about proper conduct and economic freedom, particularly throughout the nineteenth century. I also look at institutional preoccupations throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with so-called "dangerous individuals" — a broad category that has included everything from criminals and psychopaths to revolutionaries and political radicals — and how such individuals were defined by pathological medicine, and later re-defined by the political discourse of global security. I am completing my first book, Pathologies of Personhood: The Moral Economy of Insanity in the Nineteenth Century. And I am also beginning work on a new project titled, Dangerous Behavior, a global history of violence, political deviance, and mental illness in the twentieth century.
My research has covered a range of topics, including Enlightenment medical philosophy, the history of mind and brain research, the human sciences after the eighteenth century, psychoanalysis, science and technology studies, and the history of modern continental philosophy. Articles and essays developed from my research have appeared in journals including Critical Inquiry, Journal of the History of Ideas, Modern Intellectual History, and Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, and I am coeditor of the volume Plasticity of Pathology: On the Formation of the Neural Subject (Fordham University Press, 2015). I teach courses on the history, theory, and global circulation of science, medicine, and ideas of selfhood, and my courses emphasize the relationship between the sciences and humanities as well as the historical, philosophical, and political contexts of ideas.
Before arriving at Duke, I was a Harper-Schmidt Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago where I taught in the College, the History department, and the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science. Before that, I held an ACLS New Faculty Fellowship at Duke and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Wesleyan University. I received my PhD at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley 2010
Bassiri, NR. "Epileptic Insanity and Personal Identity: John Hughlings Jackson and the Formations of the Neuropathic Self." Plasticity and Pathology On the Formation of the Neural Subject.: Oxford University Press. 2016. (Chapter)
Bassiri, NR. "Who Are We, Then, If We Are Indeed Our Brains? Reconsidering a Critical Approach to Neuroscience." Neuroscience and Critique Exploring the Limits of the Neurological Turn.: Routledge. November 19, 2015. (Chapter)
Bassiri, N. "Freud and the Matter of the Brain: On the Rearrangements of Neuropsychoanalysis." Critical Inquiry 40.1 (September 2013): 83-108. Full Text
Bassiri, N. "The Brain and the Unconscious Soul in Eighteenth-Century Nervous Physiology: Robert Whytt’s Sensorium Commune." Journal of the History of Ideas 74.3 (2013): 425-448. Full Text
Bassiri, N. "Material translations in the Cartesian brain." Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43.1 (March 2012): 244-255. Full Text
BASSIRI, N. "WHAT KIND OF HISTORY IS THE HISTORY OF THE SELF? NEW PERSPECTIVES FROM THE HISTORY OF MIND AND BRAIN MEDICINE(Published online)." Modern Intellectual History: 1-13. Full Text