Human Material: Psychoneurology and the Science of the New Man in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1904-1938


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project focuses on a cluster of interrelated disciplines known in Russia as the psychoneurological sciences—including neurology, psychology, pedology, and psychotechnics. These disciplines together promised to provide a unified and comprehensive science of the human subject in the first half of the twentieth century. It examines how these sciences constructed “human material” as an object of study, an object of knowledge, and an object of political transformation, from the 1904 inception of the Psychoneurological Institute through the proliferation of the sciences in the first decade of Soviet power, to their demise in the 1930s. Placing Bolshevik ambitions for the creation of a “New Man” within this broader chronological and intellectual frame, the dissertation offers a reinterpretation of the early Soviet revolutionary project.