Skip to main content

Benjamin Dalton: 'Catherine Malabou, (neuro)plasticity, and the hospital: caring for transforming bodies'

Event information>


This event is part of the "FRICTION: French Research in Culture Theory and Imagination" seminar series, which sets out to explore the latest research in French Studies, promoting the rub between disciplines and practices that are enriching the field.

Introduction from the Speaker, Dr Benjamin Dalton (Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham):

The work of the contemporary French philosopher Catherine Malabou is largely focused on the concept of plasticity and the question of how things and lifeforms transform, metamorphose and mutate. For Malabou - inspired by ongoing research in (neuro)biology and the biomedical sciences - the human body is a significant site of plasticity. The brain, for instance, is radically plastic, changing, adapting, and re-shaping its own neural forms in response to life events and challenges. Much of Malabou's work, however, is devoted to the various pathologies of plasticity: what happens when plasticity goes wrong?; when the plastic body becomes ill?; when the neuroplastic brain suffers injury or disease? My talk will argue that Malabou's work calls for new modes of care for plastic bodies which are transforming. Further, I will suggest that these new modes of care are articulated in Malabou through a particular attention to questions of space and architecture. Bringing together Malabou's philosophy of plasticity, emerging research on clinical architecture, and re-imaginings of hospital spaces post-COVID-19 in recent work in the Medical Humanities, I will ask: how does Malabou's work allow us to re-imagine the hospital and clinical environments in ways which would allow us to care most effectively for our plastic bodies?

Please note that this event is taking place online via Zoom.