Yvan Prkachin

Yvan Prkachin

Lecturer, Harvard History of Science

Research interests: History of neuroscience; history of the brain and mind sciences; history of modern medicine; history of interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary science; history of surgery; history of psychiatry and psychology; history of technology; history of artificial intelligence and computing; medical technologies; modern American history; modern Canadian history; World War II and Cold War history; history of the human sciences; history of addiction and drugs.

Yvan is a historian of the brain and mind sciences, and of modern medicine, focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries. His dissertation, Wired Together: The Montreal Neurological Institute and the Origins of Modern Neuroscience, examines the pivotal role of the Montreal Neurological Institute in launching modern interdisciplinary ‘neuroscience.’ Founded by the neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield in 1934, the MNI developed an interdisciplinary ‘neuroscience’ that was qualitatively different than that which later developed around large-scale American research universities such as MIT. Yvan employs a biographical approach to reconstruct the historical circumstances that made Montreal a fertile meeting ground for different scientific and medical traditions, techniques, and tools. More broadly, Yvan’s research examines the confluence of technology and the sciences of brain and mind in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the history ‘interdisciplinary’ science more generally. Future projects include histories of the ‘microelectrode’ and other brain technologies, the history of medical record digitization, and a broader project on the history of the sciences of vision.

Yvan has taught courses on the history of psychiatry, science in the Cold War, the history of technology, the history of ‘brainwashing’ and mind control, along with tutorial classes in the history of science. Yvan has also developed independent courses on the history of neuroscience, the history of memory research, and the history of pain and deception.

Previous Degrees:
BA Hons., History, University of Northern British Columbia
MA., History, University of Guelph

PhD., History of Science, Harvard University

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