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Culture and hypochondria
Hypochondria is an ancient name for a malady that is always fretfully new: the fear of disease and the experience of one's body as alien and unpredictable. In his book, Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives, Brian Dillon explores the real and imagined worlds of some well-known sufferers: Charlotte Brontë, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Glenn Gould, Andy Warhol and Michael Jackson among them. In this talk Dillon will unravel the connections between real and imagined illness, irrational fear and rational concern, and propose a better way of understanding of those who scour the Internet seeking to find the source of their fantastical symptoms.
Download a podcast of Brian speaking to our reporter after his talk, and read more about it on our blog.
Brian Dillon studied English and Philosophy at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin before coming to Kent in 1995 to complete a PhD on concepts of time in twentieth-century literary criticism and theory, focussing on the work of Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Paul de Man, Jean-François Lyotard and Giorgio Agamben. He taught at the School of English for several years before becoming a freelance writer and editor around 2002. In October 2008 he returned to Kent as an AHRC Research Fellow in the Creative & Performing Arts.
His first book, an essay-cum-memoir entitled In the Dark Room, was published in 2005 and won the Irish Book Award for non-fiction the following year. His second book, Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives, is a study of a venerable medical and cultural concept and of nine individuals whose hypochondria reveals something of the history of the relation of mind to body.
Brian is the UK Editor of Cabinet, a quarterly magazine of art and culture founded in 2000 and based in New York. As well as commissioning and writing for Cabinet, he has co-organized symposia at the Photographers’ Gallery, the Southbank Centre and Tate Britain in London, and given talks at the Cooper Union and the Kitchen in New York.
His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Guardian, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Independent, the Irish Times, the New Statesman, the Dublin Review and the Wire. He is also a a widely published art critic, writing regularly for such magazines and journals as frieze, Art Review, Modern Painters and Tate etc and in recent years he has lectured at Tate Britain, Goldsmiths, the Royal College of Art, the Royal Academy and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
'Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives' is available for sale on the Foyles bookstore website.
Saturday 1 October 2011, 4:00pm - 5:00pmKohn Centre, the Royal Society.
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