Cathy Gere

Cathy GereUniversity of California, San Diego
Department of History, 0104
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0104

Phone: (858) 534-6051
Fax: (858) 534-7283


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After working for a decade as a carpenter in London, New York and San Francisco, Cathy Gere undertook an M.Phil., Ph.D. and post-doc in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University. Her first teaching job was at the University of Chicago, and she arrived at UCSD in the Fall of 2007. She is primarily interested in the history of the human sciences, especially archaeology and neuroscience, and she teaches classes in the histories of medicine, medical ethics, evolutionary theory and biology.

Professor Gere has published on a wide range of topics including demonology, brain-banking and the sexing of bones in archaeological digs. In 2006 Harvard University Press brought out her first book, The Tomb of Agamemnon, a cultural history of the ruins of the Bronze Age city of Mycenae, which came out in a Greek edition the following year. The University of Chicago Press published her second book, Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, (2009), which uncovers the manifold connections between archaeology, psychoanalysis and modernist aesthetics. Her post-doctoral work was in the history and ethics of the neurosciences, and in 2004 she co-edited a special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science on the ‘Brain in a Vat’, which examined the famous philosophical thought experiment from a variety of perspectives and disciplines, including the history of technology, film studies, aesthetics and ethics. Currently she is working on the relationship between neuroscience and political philosophy.

Research Interests

  • archaeology, neuroscience, neurology, experimental psychology, medicine, medical ethics, utilitarianism

Current Work

Cathy Gere's current manuscript examines the rise and fall of a research tradition in the neuroscience of pleasure and pain, which she is calling 'utilitarian neurology'. Developed by British philosophers, physicians and reformers as a response to the challenge of French Revolutionary medicine, this tradition combined legal, political, medical, biological, psychological and physiological theories into a total account of the human condition. The narrative traces its origins and development, from Jeremy Bentham’s analysis of the ‘Springs of Action’, to the animal experiments that laid the groundwork for behaviorist psychology, to its ignominious conclusion when one its leading exponents had to give testimony about his research practices at a 1973 Senate Hearing on human experimentation. Because of its direct connection to theories of human wellbeing, the story of pleasure pain research is especially revealing of ethics and politics of experimental psychology.

Selected Publications

  • Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, University of Chicago Press (2009) [Winner of the Prose Prize for Archaeology and Anthropology, Association of American Publishers; Winner of the Bonner Award, Academy of Scholars, Wayne State University; short-listed for the Criticos Prize; reviewed in Harpers, New York Review of Books, The Economist, Science, Times Literary Supplement, The New Republic, etc.; named as one of the 2009 ‘Books of the Year’ in the TLS.]
  • The Tomb of Agamemnon: Mycenae and the Search for a Hero London: Profile Press (January 2006) Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press (March 2006) Greek edition, Athens: Patakis Press (October 2007)

Edited volumes

  • Special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences on the philosophical, cultural, historical and aesthetic aspects of ‘The Brain in a Vat’ Vol. 35, no. 2, June 2004.

Articles, long reviews, and book chapters

  • “Hemispheric Disturbances,” review of Who’s in Charge: Free-will and the Science of the Brain, by Michael Gazzaniga, The Nation, December 5th, 2011.
  • ‘“Nature’s Experiment”: epilepsy, brain localization, and the emergence of the cerebral subject’ in Neurocultures: glimpses into an expanding universe, ed. Francisco Ortega and Fernando Vidal, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2011.
  • ‘Dying and Not Dying,’ review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, London Review of Books, June 10th, 2010
  • ‘To Hairiness!’ review of The Marvellous Hairy Girls by Merry Wiesner Hanks, London Review of Books, July 23rd, 2009
  • ‘Restoring Faith: the ancient Minoan civilization’ History Today, 59:7, July 2009, pp. 48-50
  • ‘Freudian archaeology and Cretan psychoanalysis’, Creta Antica 7, pp.64-80. 
  • Parry B., and Gere, C. ‘Contested Bodies: property models and the commodification of human biological artefacts.’ Science as Culture 15(2), June 2006, 139-58. 
  • Gere, C. and Parry, B.C. ‘The Flesh Made Word: Banking the Body in the Age of Information.’ Biosocieties 1:1 March 2006, pp.41-54 
  • ‘The Brain in a Vat’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Vol. 35, no. 2, June 2004, pp.219-225 
  • ‘Thought in a Vat: Thinking Through Annie Cattrell’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Vol. 35, no. 2, June 2004, pp.415-436
  •  ‘A Brief History of Brain Archiving’ Journal of the History of the Neurosciences Volume 12, issue 4, December 2003, pp. 396-410 
  • ‘Inscribing Nature: archaeological metaphors and the formation of new sciences’ Public Archaeology, 2002, Vol 2, no. 4, pp.195-208. 
  • ‘William Harvey’s Weak Experiment: the archaeology of an anecdote’, History Workshop Journal no. 51, February / March 2001, pp.19-36. 
  • ‘Bones that Matter: sex determination in paleodemography 1948-1995’. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 1999, Vol. 30, no.4, pp.455-471.