Sabine Arnaud

Research Group Leader


Residence: November 1, 2010–October 31, 2016


Sabine Arnaud’s current research focuses on the instrumentalization of the question of deafness in the construction of various disciplines, and the study of conflicting new conceptions of the human and of normality/abnormality. Studying deafness from the seventeenth to the late nineteenth century, her project traces the crucial role that language has played in how we define humanity, and analyzes the many ways in which this relationship has been articulated (voice and sign language). The new research project follows the completion of a monograph on hysteria published by the Editions de l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in January 2014, which won the Prix d’histoire de la médecine awarded by the French Society for the History of Medicine and the Academy of Medicine. A version in English will appear with The University of Chicago Press in 2015 as On Hysteria: The Invention of a Medical Category (1670-1820). Sabine Arnaud is a member of the editorial board of the journal History of Human Sciences, published by Sage.

A U.S. doctorate in Comparative Literature (City University of New York) in cotutelle with a French thesis in History and Civilizations (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) and graduate theses in Philosophy and Art History (Paris VIII-Vincennes-Saint Denis) have guided Sabine Arnaud’s approach to visual and textual documents. She has been a Max Planck Research Group director since November 2010.

Before joining the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Sabine Arnaud was an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. Her research on hysteria has previously been supported by a Milton Brown Dissertation Fellowship and fellowships from the New York Academy of Medicine, the Société Internationale d’Etude des Femmes de l’Ancien Régime, the Countway Library of Harvard University, the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M University, the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin, and The Institute for the Medical Humanities of The University of Texas.

Current work:

The Writing of Deafness and the Construction of Norms in France and Italy (1700-1914)

Selected publications

  • Arnaud, S. (2015). On Hysteria: The Invention of a Medical Category between 1670 and 1820. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. More
  • Arnaud, S. (2014). L'invention de l'hystérie au temps des Lumières (1670-1820). Paris: Ed. de l'EHESS. More Book page
  • Arnaud, S. (2014). Fashioning a role for medicine: Alexandre-Louis-Paul Blanchet and the care of the deaf in mid-nineteenth-century France. Social History of Medicine, 1-20. doi: More
  • Arnaud, S. (2012). Ruse and Reappropriation in the French Eighteenth Century: 'La Philosophy of the Vapours' by C.-J. de B. de Paumerelle. French Studies, 65(2), 174-187. More
  • Arnaud, S. (2010). Une Maladie indéfinissable? L'hystérie, de la métaphore au récit, au XVIIIe siècle. More
  • Arnaud, S. (Ed.). (2009). La Philosophie des Vapeurs. Paris: Mercure de France. More

More publications

Talks and presentations

21.02.2015 Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin – "L’écriture d’une catégorie médicale et l’invention d’une tradition épistémologique: l’hystérie. Du rôle de la citation dans les écrits français (1575-1820)"
12-14.11.2014 Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Georg-August-University Goettingen – "Between Human Rights and Civil Rights: The Deaf Citizen in the Wake of the French Revolution"
03.11.2014 University of Minnesota, Department of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology – "Destinies of a Metaphor: Figuring the Undefinable in French Modern Medicine (1575-1820)"
31.10.2014 University of Wisconsin-Madison – "Defining Deafness as a Medical Problem in Nineteenth-Century France"
29.10.2014 ITT Benjamin Franklin Project, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago – "A Disease Best Described by its Etymology? Hysteria in France at the Turn of the 19th Century"


Teaching activities

Spring 2010 The Institute for the Medical Humanities, The University of Texas Medical Branch – The Establishment of Medicine and The Construction of a Medical Category From 1670 to 1830: Hysteria in France and England
Summer 2009 Humboldt-Universität, Institut für Germanistik, Department of Medienanalyse – (with Rupert Gaderer) Literatur, Naturwissenschaften und Medizin um 1800