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Guest Lecture - "Breeding a Better Man: French and German Enlightenment Thinkers and Their Dreams of the Perfect Society"

Friday, March 21, 2014
4:00 AM
Modern Language Building 3308

A part of the Department's Graduate Studies Colloquium series

Unlike the common notion of eugenics as a phenomenon of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, concepts of "human breeding" were developed in Western Europe since the middle of the 18th century. Based on case studies and tracts dealing with "medical police" and "medical hygiene", scientific and economic experts discussed problems such as the hereditary transmission of disabilities and diseases, and the origins of so-called "degenerate" peoples in the scientific and enlightened journals. In the forefront of the French Revolution especially French and German physicians and bureaucrats developed concrete plans for a strictly state controlled marriage policy and "female stud farms" in the manner of livestock breeders to enhance not only the "quantity" but the "quality" of their countries' population.

About the Speaker

Maren Lorenz studied History, Political Science, and Psychology in Heidelberg, Vienna and Hamburg. Before coming to the University of Toronto as a Visiting Associate Professor and Director of the DAAD Information Centre in 2012, she worked at a private Hamburg Research Foundation and taught as Lecturer at the Department of History at Hamburg University. Lorenz is the author of countless articles and four books: Vandalismus als Alltagsphänomen, Hamburg: Hamburger Edition 2009. [Vandalism as Everyday Phenomenon]; Das Rad der Gewalt: Militär und Zivilbevölkerung in Norddeutschland nach dem Dreißigjährigen Krieg, 1650-1700, Cologne: Böhlau, 2007. [Cycle of Violence: Military and Civilians in Northern Germany after the Thirty Years War, 1650-1700]; Leibhaftige Vergangenheit: Einführung in die Körpergeschichte (Historische Einführungen, vol. 4), Tübingen: Edition Diskord, 2000 (20052)  [Embodied Past: Introduction into Body History];  Kriminelle Körper – Gestörte Gemüter: Die Normierung des Individuums in Gerichtsmedizin und Psychiatrie der Aufklärung, Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 1999. [Criminal Bodies – Disturbed Minds: Normalizing the Individual in Enlightenment’s Forensic Medicine]