Dr Benjamin Dalton

Lecturer in French Studies

Research Interests

My research is broadly situated between French Studies and the Medical Humanities. In particular, I am interested in how contemporary French philosophy and cultural production are currently dialoguing with biomedical science. I want to explore how engagements with science and medicine across French philosophy, literature and visual art can help us respond to diverse problems currently facing public healthcare and transform the ways we think about therapy and care.

I am currently working on two research projects. My first project explores the work of the contemporary French philosopher Catherine Malabou, who writes at the intersections of philosophy, psychoanalysis, and the neurosciences. Malabou’s central concept of ‘plasticity’ describes how organic lifeforms change and transform throughout life, as can be seen for instance in the neuroplasticity of the human brain which adapts and re-models itself constantly. My work brings Malabou’s interdisciplinary philosophy of biological mutability and plasticity into contact with depictions of bodily transformation and metamorphosis in contemporary French literature and film. My publications on Malabou, literature and film include a book chapter on plasticity and representations of queerness in Alain Guiraudie’s cinema (2019); an article on Malabou in relation to literary depictions of metamorphosis in the writer Marie Darrieussecq (Dalhousie French Studies, 2020); an article on representations of microbiological mutability in Malabou and the queer films of Robin Campillo (Modern and Contemporary France, 2022); and an exploration of conceptions of plasticity, form, and formlessness in Malabou and the work of Georges Bataille (MLN, 2022). I have also published an interview with Malabou in Paragraph (2019).

My new project, provisionally titled Transforming the Hospital with Contemporary French Philosophy, argues that contemporary French philosophers are currently engaging with biomedical science in ways which can propose new kinds of healthcare spaces and hospital environments. Bringing together thinkers such as Catherine Malabou, Paul B. Preciado, Jean-Luc Nancy and Isabelle Stengers, I argue that there has been a shift in the relationship between French philosophy and the hospital: whereas Michel Foucault’s influential critique Birth of the Clinic (1963) once characterised a philosophical distrust of the hospital, my new project seeks to analyse how contemporary French philosophers are engaging positively and dynamically with medical science in order to propose new clinical environments for empowering and emancipatory healthcare. I am particularly interested in how philosophy can help propose empowering healthcare environments for LGBTQIA+ patients. I have published preliminary work from this project in my article: ‘The Plastic Clinic: Catherine Malabou’s Architectural Therapeutics’ (Essays in French Literature & Culture, 2021).

The DAPHNE Project": A Celebration of Anne Hirsch-Henecke’s County South sculpture Daphne
Symposium

LGBTQ&A
Public Lecture/ Debate/Seminar

French Studies (Journal)
Publication peer-review

Guest lecture: How can French philosophy help us to transform the hospital?
Invited talk

Building Blocks for Clinicians
Participation in workshop, seminar, course

"Plastic, it’s fantastic!” Take 2: Barbie meets Chemical Engineering, French Philosophy, and Neuroscience
Oral presentation

"Plastic, it’s fantastic!”: Barbie meets Chemical Engineering, French Philosophy, and Neuroscience​
Oral presentation

Inclusive Healthcare Spaces
Public Lecture/ Debate/Seminar

Queer Medical Humanities Network: Talk at the Health@Lancaster Collaboration Café
Invited talk

Languages in Science GLOBAL
Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

Queer Medical Humanities Network: Seed Meeting
Participation in workshop, seminar, course

Society for French Studies Annual Conference 2023
Participation in conference - Academic

Society for French Studies Annual Conference 2023
Participation in conference - Academic

DeLC EDI Wellbeing Event for Students and Staff
Other

EDI in the IPY: Student Workshop Afternoon
Participation in workshop, seminar, course

Application Journey Post-PhD
Public Lecture/ Debate/Seminar

FASS Health Hub Showcase
Types of Public engagement and outreach - Festival/Exhibition

Wellbeing and health research in the arts, humanities and social sciences
Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

'Rebuilding the Hospital with Jean-Luc Nancy: Approaches to Clinical Environments through Contemporary French Philosophy'
Invited talk

Brown Bag research session
Participation in workshop, seminar, course

Catherine Malabou, (neuro)plasticity, and the hospital: caring for transforming bodies
Invited talk

Relaxing with Catherine Malabou: Approaches to letting go in philosophy and neuroscience
Invited talk

Society for French Studies 2022 annual conference
Participation in conference - Academic

Listening to the neuro-plastic body in the work of Catherine Malabou: Witnessing bodily transformation
Invited talk

Senses and Modern Health/care Environments: Exploring Interdisciplinary and InternationalOpportunities
Participation in conference - Academic

Modern and Contemporary France (Journal)
Editorial activity

Contemporary Womxn's Writing and the Medical Humanities
Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

Contemporary Womxn's Writing and the Medical Humanities
Participation in conference - Academic

Contemporary Women's Writing and the Medical Humanities: Online seminar Series
Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

Contemporary Women's Writing and the Medical Humanities: Online seminar Series
Participation in workshop, seminar, course

Narrating the Brain
Public Lecture/ Debate/Seminar

  • FASS Health Hub
  • Queer Medical Humanities Network