The human body in the age of catastrophe : brittleness, integration, science, and the Great War / Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers.

  • Geroulanos, Stefanos, 1979-
  • Books

About this work


The injuries suffered by soldiers during WWI were as varied as they were brutal. How could the human body suffer and often absorb such disparate traumas? Why might the same wound lead one soldier to die but allow another to recover? Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers uncover a fascinating story of how medical scientists came to conceptualize the body as an integrated yet brittle whole. Responding to the harrowing experience of the Great War, the medical community sought conceptual frameworks to understand bodily shock, brain injury, and the wildly divergence between patients. Geroulanos and Meyers carefully trace how this emerging constellation of concepts became essential for thinking about integration, individuality, fragility, and collapse far beyond medicine: in fields as diverse as anthropology, political economy, psychoanalysis, and cybernetics. Moving effortlessly between the history of medicine and intellectual history, The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe is an intriguing look into the conceptual underpinnings of the world the Great War ushered in.


Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, 2018.

Physical description

xii, 419 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 23 cm


Prologue: "Why don't we die daily?" -- Part one. The whole on the verge of collapse: physiology's test -- The puzzle of wounds: shock and the body at war -- The visible and the invisible: the rise and operationalization of case studies, 1915-1919 -- Part two. Brain injury, patienthood, and nervous integration in Sherrington, Goldstein, and Head, 1905-1934 -- Physiology incorportes the psyche: digestion, emotions, and homeostasis in Walter Cannon, 1898-1932 -- The organism and its environment: integration, interiority, and individuality around 1930 -- Part Three. The political economy in bodily metaphor and the anthropologies of integrated communication -- Vis medicatrix, or the fragmentation of medical humanism -- Closure: the individual.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 331-419).


Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9780226556451