Sabine Arnaud

Visiting Scholar (Nov 2016-Jan 2017)

PhD, Professor HDR

Sabine Arnaud’s 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, the prize « Bourse Marcelle Blum » awarded by the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, and the prize for young historians by the International Academy of the History of Science (granted unanimously). A version in English appeared 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 US 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 MPIWG, 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.


No projects were found for this scholar.

Encounters between Medicine, Literature, Philosophy, and their Circulation in Public Debates


Legal History, History of Criminology and History of Psychiatry


Medicalization at the Intersection of the History of Psychology and the History of Education


The Construction of Deafness in Western Europe and the United States (Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries)


The Writing of the Category of Hysteria (1670–1820)


Selected Publications

Arnaud, S. (2014). L'invention de l'hystérie au temps des Lumières (1670-1820). Paris: Ed. de l'EHESS.

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Arnaud, S. (2012). De la dénomination d'une maladie à son assignation: l' hystérie et la différence sexuelle entre 1750 et 1820. In E. Viennot (Ed.), Revisiter la "querelle des femmes": discours sur l' égalité/ inégalité des sexes, de 1750 aux lendemains de la Révolution (pp. 131-147). Saint-Etienne: Publications de l'Université de Saint-Etienne.

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Arnaud, S. (2011). 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. doi:10.1093/fs/Knq248.

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Arnaud, S. (2012). S/he who traps last traps best: the diagnosis of vapours and the writing of observations in late eighteenth-century France. In S. Arnaud, & H. Jordheim (Eds.), Le corps et ses images dans l' Europe du dix-huitième siècle / The body and its images (pp. 147-165). Paris: Champion.

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Arnaud, S. (2010). Autobiographies of Illness as Medical Legitimacy in the Works of Francis Fuller, George Cheyne, Charles Révillon and the Count de Puységur. In C. F. E. Holzhey (Ed.), Tension/Spannung (pp. 49-70). Berlin: Turia & Kant.

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Arnaud, S. (2010). Review of: Gilles Barroux, Philosophie, maladie et médecine au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Champion 2008. In Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales (1, pp. 199-201). Armand Colin.

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Arnaud, S. (2010). Une Maladie indéfinissable? L'hystérie, de la métaphore au récit, au XVIIIe siècle.

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Arnaud, S. (2010)..Vous en guérirez et tout sera dit, De la circonspection dans l'énonciation de la maladie au XVIIIe siècle (Suisse, France, Angleterre). In C. Crignon (Ed.), Qu'est-ce qu'un bon patient? Qu'est-ce qu'on bon médecin? (pp. 263-273). Paris: Seli Arslan.

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Arnaud, S. (Ed.). (2009). La Philosophie des vapeurs. Paris: Mercure de France.

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Arnaud, S. (2009). Medical Writing, Philosophical Encounters, and Professional Strategy: The Defiance of Pierre Pomme.

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Arnaud, S. (2007). L’Art de Vaporiser à Propos, Pourparlers entre un Médecin et une Marquise Vaporeuse. Dix-Huitième siècle, 39, 505-519.

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Arnaud, S. (2015). On hysteria: the invention of a medical category between 1670 and 1820. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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Arnaud, S. (2015). Quand des formes de vie se rejoignent: langue des signes et citoyenneté en France au tournant du 19e siècle. Raisons Politiques, 57(1), 97-110. doi:10.3917/rai.057.0097.

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Arnaud, S. (2015). Fashioning a role for medicine: Alexandre-Louis-Paul Blanchet and the care of the deaf in mid-nineteenth-century France. Social History of Medicine, 28(2), 288-307. doi:10.1093/shm/hku086.

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Audism, Phonocentrism, and Articulation Techniques in Seventeenth- to Nineteenth-Century Europe


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

“The Medical Appropriation of Deafness and the Redefinition of Other Fields of Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century France and Italy”

Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland, University College Dublin

“Audism, Phonocentrism, and Articulation Techniques in Seventeenth- to Nineteenth-Century Europe”

Departmental Colloquium, Department II, MPIWG

“De la disciplinarisation des savoirs, enjeux et perspectives de recherche”

Sorbonne-Paris I, Séminaire Foucault de Jean-François Braunstein

“The 'Curable Abnormal' - a Perfect Object for Fields of Knowledge in Construction (France, Italy, England)”

Richardson History of Psychiatry Research Seminar, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York

“Audism and Articulation techniques in Seventeenth- to Eighteenth-century England”

Sorbonne-Paris 3

Breaking Through: Impaired/heightened Senses,
"A Disease Best Described by its Etymology? Hysteria in France at the Turn of the 19th Century"

ITT Benjamin Franklin Project, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago

"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)"

Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin

"Defining Deafness as a Medical Problem in Nineteenth-Century France"

University of Wisconsin-Madison

"The Invention of the Abnormal in Late Nineteenth-Century France and Italy"

Centre Suisse de Recherche pour l’Histoire sociale et économique, University of Zurich

"Destinies of a Metaphor: Figuring the Undefinable in French Modern Medicine (1575-1820)"

University of Minnesota, Department of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

"Between Human Rights and Civil Rights: The Deaf Citizen in the Wake of the French Revolution"

Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Georg-August-University Goettingen

History of Education and Hierarchies of Knowledge: The Battle to Create an Ecole Normale for Teachers of the Deaf

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Medical roles: On the Changing Definition of a Field of Expertise 1840-1860

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
"Inventing the abnormal in late nineteenth-century France and Italy; The deaf, an exemplary case"

McGill University

Disciplinary Conflicts and the Distribution of Competence: Deafness between 1860 and 1900 (France, Italy)

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
Roles to Define: Medicine and Deafness in Mid-Nineteenth-Century France: Alexandre-Louis-Paul Blanchet’s desire for recognition and the fashioning of epistemological stakes

International Society of History of Otorhinolaryngology, 6th Working Meeting, Padua

The Writing of Deafness

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

A Physiology of Language in 17th-19th Century Europe: Towards an Epistemology of Deafness

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Imaginings of colonization in the construction of deaf-muteness in the 19th-century

80th Anglo-American Conference 2011: Health in History, London

Appropriation et déplacements d'un diagnostic au 18e siècle: les Vapeurs et l'écriture de la difference sexuelle

Institut Émilie du Châtelet

"La dernière Carte, ou le pari de l'imagination," The Power of the Imagination in the 16th-18th Centuries

Institut des Sciences de la Communication du CNRS
“La Réception des écrits médicaux au 18e siècle, Stratégies de légitimation médicales et définition du patient à venir”

Collège International de Philosophie

The Establishment of Medicine and The Construction of a Medical Category From 1670 to 1830: Hysteria in France and England

The Institute for the Medical Humanities, The University of Texas Medical Branch

(with Rupert Gaderer) Literatur, Naturwissenschaften und Medizin um 1800

Humboldt-Universität, Institut für Germanistik, Department of Medienanalyse