Alice Kuzniar received SSHRC Insight Grant

Friday, September 20, 2019

Professor Alice Kuzniar received a SSHRC Insight Grant for her research about the influence of the writings and practice of the renowned homeopath Clemens von Bönninghausen on the poetry of Germany's foremost female writer, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. For this, she asks the question: How can one meaningfully bring together the very different fields of medicine and literature? Professor Kuzniar says that this grant allows her to pursue this line of research and form a team of medical historians and literary scholars.

Read the summary of her proposal below:

Bönninghausen was the main disciple of the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, whose work he systematized and popularized. Droste consulted with him for almost two decades. Her poetry was famous for exquisite attention to mood changes, meticulous observations of nature, heightened sense of ephemerality, and depictions of self-estrangement. All these characteristics of modernity, Prof. Kuzniar argues, stem from homeopathy's distinctive demands about how to observe, record, communicate, and catalogue symptoms of illness in detail. Given the stature of both Droste and Bönninghausen, it is remarkable that the disciplines--literature and the history of medicine--have not examined his influence on her writing, although the legacy of both 19th-century writers extends into the present.

Why is the constellation of homeopathy and literature important to us today? This project continues to contribute to ongoing public debates about homeopathy by developing the argument first presented in THE BIRTH OF HOMEOPATHY OUT OF THE SPIRIT OF ROMANTICISM that homeopathy must be recognized as a child of its time--of intellectual and medical debates around 1800--alas, a history invisible and ignored. Rarely recognized are how homeopathy's materia medica and patient notes are uniquely dictated by an unusual heterogeneous listing of symptoms, an inventory that encourages its patients to utmost sensate attentiveness. It was a strategy of perceiving and notating that created the strikingly modern poetry of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.

Congratulations, Alice! We hope your research goes as planned and are looking forward to the results.