The Neuroscientific Turn

Transdisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain
Melissa M. Littlefield and Jenell M. Johnson, editors

An interdisciplinary collection considering implications of the current 'neurorevolution'


The Neuroscientific Turn brings together 19 scholars from a variety of fields to reflect on the promises of and challenges facing emergent "neurodisciplines" such as neuroethics, neuroeconomics, and neurohistory. In the aftermath of the Decade of the Brain, neuroscience has become one of the hottest topics of study—not only for scientists but also, increasingly, for scholars from the humanities and social sciences. While the popular press has simultaneously lauded and loathed the coming "neurorevolution," the academy has yet to voice any collective speculations about whether there is any coherence to this neuroscientific turn; what this turn will and should produce; and what implications it has for inter- or transdisciplinary inquiry.

Melissa M. Littlefield and Jenell M. Johnson provide an initial framework for this most recent of "turns" by bringing together 14 original essays by scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and neurosciences. The resulting collection will appeal to neuroscientists curious about their colleagues' interest in their work; scholars and students both in established neurodisciplines and in disciplines such as sociology or English wondering about how to apply neuroscience findings to their home disciplines; and to science, technology, and society scholars and students interested in the roles of interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in the construction of knowledge.

"From neuroscience boot camps to other venues, The Neuroscientific Turn provides a lively investigation of the multiple ways neuroscience is being taken up (or not) in disciplines such as economics, literature, and philosophy. The volume's inclusion of chapters by adopters and critics is a creative tactic—one that will spark debate and discussion. By focusing on the traffic between neuroscience and other fields, The Neuroscientific Turn offers insight into broader changes in the organization of universities and scholarly inquiry in the 21st century."
—Kelly Joyce, The College of William and Mary

"The Neuroscientific Turn is a timely, thoughtful, and critically astute collection of essays. Littlefield and Johnson aim to place the current mass-application of neuroscience to other fields in historical and cultural context. It is pioneering and will head a new and sorely needed scholarly response to the undamped rush of studies relating neuroscience to other fields."
—Laura Otis, Emory University

Jacket art: MRI Butterfly (2008) by Suzanne Anker.

Melissa M. Littlefield is Assistant Professor of English and Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 

Jenell M. Johnson is Associate Director of Disability Studies at the University of Wisconsin –Madison.

Look Inside

Classroom Resources

Discussion Questions | Word doc

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 268pp.
  • 6 B&W illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11826-7

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  • $84.95 U.S.

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  • neuroscientific turn, neuroscience, neurodiscipline, neuroethics, neuroeconcomics, transdisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, science, technology, and society studies