Last November, Alexandra Bacopoulos-Viau received the 2014 Dissertation Prize for her dissertation, “Scripting the Mind: Automatic Writing in France, 1857-1930” (University of Cambridge, 2013). The FHHS praises Bacopoulos-Viau’s work saying:
“[Bacopoulos-Viau] traced the fate of a single practice (automatic writing) across different sets of actors working in a range of domains–spiritual, scientific, and artistic–to demonstrate the mutual debts among these fields. Bacopoulos-Viau interprets the history of this strange practice in the context of revolutionary new communication technologies (the telegraph and telephone) that, like automatic writing, depended upon a gendered division of labor and appeared both mundanely mechanical yet also magical. She directly tackled materials created by actors traditionally neglected in the history of science (works generated by spirits, patients, poets,) yet balanced this with careful attention to the work of leading scientists. Her thesis drew on an amazing range of primary evidence (reproduced samples of writing; poetry; photos; experimental records) to argue that a refined understanding of the practice of automatic writing across domains reveals the profound significance of distinguishing between the discovery of the unconscious and the discovery of the subconscious. Bacopoulos-Viau forces us to reconsider nothing less than the invention and the (gendered) character of the modern self”.
The full citation is available on the Forum for History of Human Science’s website: http://fhhs.org/awards/dissertation-prize/citations-for-the-dissertation-prize/