Hamideh Mahdiani


With a college education of natural sciences, and a thirst for literature, I studied English Literature in my bachelor’s and master’s in my home country, Iran. In my thesis, I worked on the concept of control in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow using Foucault and Habermas. Working on an American author, drove me towards my second master’s in American Studies with a focus on literature and culture in Friedrich-Alexander Universität, Erlangen. Although all my academic studies were centered on literary and cultural studies, my fascination with interdisciplinary projects led me to do my master’s thesis in FAU on trauma, memory, and archive which combined literature, psychology, and sociology.


… a unique platform for scholars interested in the challenge of broadening their knowledge horizons through an interdisciplinary research atmosphere. In today’s world, the need for higher standards of life demands sciences and various fields of knowledge to merge. The GRK provides me and my colleagues with the opportunity of looking into biomedical fields of knowledge through different angles, not only from a cultural perspective or social aspect, but also a literary point of view or a scientific eye.


… as part of the GRK group, to foster knowledge production and contribute to the totality of the team. Furthermore, speaking of my goal in my own project within the group, I have aimed at pointing to the deep impact scientific discourses and cultural-social factors have on one another. I am convinced that by using literature, culture, and neuroscience, it is possible to portray the interdependency of life writing and life sciences. The outcome of this study, on the one hand, helps me to map the boundaries between life science and life writing and, on the other, points at the reason behind their mutual development.


...titled How Good is Better: From Resilience to Enhancement?, focuses on the essential convergence of cultural trends and biomedical discoveries by means of studying literary representations and neurobiological texts. Working with the double helix of salvation versus threat, it starts with genealogies of neurobiological fantasies in American literature and how these concepts can be looked at regarding "the myths that made America" (based on the premise that they all involve a form of expansion). The project then moves towards attempting to propose answers to how and why we define the two concepts of resilience and enhancement the way we do. Why is there, and has always been, the need to be resilient, to be ‘better than well’? What role do power structures and surveillance play in the definition of better? In the final part of the thesis, I will deal with neurobiological texts, and scrutinize metaphors of resilience and enhancement as well as the crucial role of bioethics.


Contact: h.mahdiani@uni-mainz.de