Natalie Kruse

BACKGROUND:

I hold a binational master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Mainz and English Literature from Clark University (Worcester, MA, USA), where I also worked as a teaching assistant. During my studies I discovered the fascinating areas of life writing, disability studies, narrative ethics, and medical humanities. Particularly, the interplay of literature, medicine, psychology, philosophy, the neurosciences, and its depiction in (auto)biographical narratives increasingly triggered my deep curiosity. It urged me to study more in those very fields in order to explore how and where those—apparently unrelated and sometimes even contradictory—disciplines intersect and may possibly benefit from one another.

THE GRK IS...

…a competitive research and training program, which provides a unique opportunity for me to deepen my knowledge and pursue both my academic and private passion for literature and medical topics. The interdisciplinary character of the graduate college equips me with the medical, philosophical, and ethical knowledge to develop a scientific view on literary representations of illness and human boundary experiences. The continuous exchange and lively discussions fostered by all members of the GRK represent a vital and equally intriguing part of the program. It encourages mutual learning and the expansion of our personal conceptual horizons.

MY GOAL IS...

…to explore how the representations of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)—both in biomedical, historical, and (auto)biographical narratives—can be understood and maybe even re-conceptualized at the intersections of life writing and the life sciences. I want to go beyond existing—and often dividing—categories in order to broaden up the perspectives from which literary texts of very different genres can be viewed. In my eyes, only a meta-perspective on human embodiment can live up to the complexity and multifariousness of human boundary experiences inherent in life.

MY PROJECT...

…approaches Autism Spectrum Disorders as (one a) medical and narrative boundary experiences from both a life sciences and life writing perspective. I will look at the representation of autism in different instances of lived experience in (auto)biographical accounts, as well as biomedical explanations in scientific and historical literature. By spanning a bridge between the life writing narratives, on the one hand, and the historical and scientific discourse, on the other, I will explore what kind of stories those different narratives about ASDs tell and why. It will ultimately be my aim to find out what the prevailing omnipresence of the discourse and society’s apparent fascination with autism says about the current zeitgeist, in which the debate around this condition seems to be well embedded.

 

Contact: n.kruse@uni-mainz.de