This is the first in-depth study of the English neurologist and polymath Sir Henry Head (1861-1940). Head bridged the gap between science and the arts. He was a published poet who had close links with such figures as Thomas Hardy and Siegfried Sassoon. His research into the nervous system and the relationship between language and the brain broke new ground. L. S. Jacyna argues that these advances must be contextualized within wider Modernist debates about perception and language. In his time, Head was best known for his research into the human nervous system. He did a series of experiments in collaboration with W. H. R. Rivers in which cutaneous nerves were surgically severed in Head’s arm and the stages by which sensation returned were chartered over several years. Head’s friend, the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, drew out the epistemological implications of how, in this new conception, the nervous system furthered the knowledge of the world.
Jacyna's seminal portrait of physiologist-turned-clinical-neurologist Henry Head reinvents medical biography and positions it at the cutting edge of several rejuvenated historiographies.
This is a thoughtful, critical—and oftentimes compassionate—view of an overlooked figure of the modernist period.
Medicine and Modernism is as impressively polymathic as its subject . . . Jacyna is a consummate historian, faithful to the detail of Head's life that emerges from a rich archive of material, both published and unpublished.
Jacyna has given us an accomplished, scholarly, and insightful account of an era.
Jacyna is a highly regarded historian of medicine who . . . has written an eloquent and subtle biography of an individual and his milieu. It will be of interest to anyone seeking a window on to the world of medicine and the arts at the outset of the twentieth century.
L. S. Jacyna is Emeritus Reader at University College London.learn more