Nicolás FERNÁNDEZ-MEDINA

2020-2021

François Chevalier fellow

Pennsylvania State University

Vitalist Modernity and the Boundaries of Life: Resuscitation and the Resuscitated Body in Spanish Science and Literature, 1650-1900

Nicolás Fernández-Medina earned his PhDs in Modern Spanish Literature and Humanities at Stanford University. He is currently Assoc. Prof. of Spanish and Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His interdisciplinary research focuses on the intersections of literature, philosophy, and science in eighteenth- to early twentieth-century Spain and has appeared in various academic and professional publications. In addition to his teaching and academic experience, Fernández-Medina serves extensively as editor and board member on numerous journals. He is the cofounder of the Iberian Modernist Studies Forum at PSU and serves as Series Editor for McGill-Queen’s Iberian and Latin American Cultures series. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Benjamin Franklin Institute, Edward & Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, Institute of Arts and Humanities, Public Humanities Scholar Program, Hasso Plattner Institute, and Instituto Camões.

Research project

Few phenomena have stirred our imaginations and fears as much as resuscitation. How is it that a deceased body with no visible or measurable signs of vitality can be reanimated and infused with new life? In recent years, topics such as biopower, biopolitics, embodiment, and vitalism have exploded in various fields. While fundamental questions of body and life have been addressed by leading contemporary philosophers and social theorists from Canguilhem to Braidotti, we still do not have a clear understanding of one of modernity’s greatest discoveries in this arena: the practice of resuscitation. To be sure, resuscitation has always problematized the realm of science. To this day, the most advanced technologies and instruments of measurement cannot offer any definitive answer to the enduring inquiry about bodily life we find formulated in Hippocrates’s On the Nature of Man: where does life dwell in the body? The cultural impact of resuscitation and its place within modernity, including its engagement with hagiography, galvanism, romantic organicism, physiological medicine, fin-de-siècle obscurantism, avant-garde vitalism, vampirism, and zombieism remains to be told. The truth is that the cultural significance of resuscitation in Spain (and Europe more broadly) between 1650 and 1900 remains chronically understudied, and no monograph to date has systematically addressed it. Nicolás Fernández-Medina’s project will begin to reconstruct this history.

Selected Publications

-  “Antonio Machado en diálogo con Emmanuel Lévinas: El compromiso con la objetividad y la otredad.” Fernández-Medina, N. Hispanic Review, vol. 88, no. 4, 2020, pp. 373-394.

- “The Defeated Subjects of Spanish Modernity: Progress and the Anatomy of Fatigue in José de Letamendi’s Sociocultural Theory.” Fernández-Medina, N. Bulletin of Spanish Studies, vol. 96, no. 10, 2019, pp. 2-29. 

- Life Embodied: The Promise of Vital Force in Spanish Modernity. Fernández-Medina, N.McGill-Queen’s UP, 2018.

- Modernism and the Avant-garde Body in Spain and Italy. Routledge, 2016. Fernández-Medina, N. & Maria Truglio, eds.

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