Tabea Cornel

Visiting Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities - Gender Studies - Health, Culture and Societies - Humanities - Interdisciplinary Programs

Tabea Cornel
  • Phone: (941) 487-4618
  • Email:
  • Office Location: PME 227
  • Mail Location: ACE 116

., Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
SCAN Graduate Student Certificate in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Center for Neuroscience and Society, University of Pennsylvania
M.A., Institute of Philosophy and the History of Literature, Science, and Technology, Technical University of Berlin
B.Sc., Institute of Mathematics, Free University of Berlin

Research Interests
My passion is to unravel the epistemological and ethical implications of scientific and medical classification systems. I focus on the psy- and neuro-disciplines in the English-, German-, and French-speaking worlds from the 19th century to the present. My current research project, tentatively titled Unruly Quantification: Making Up Minds and Brains With Scales, Scores, and Statistical Methods, historicizes technologies of quantification and digitization on which researchers and clinicians rely to assess human brains and minds. Unruly Quantification will illuminate the ways in which quantifying tools have impacted our understanding of brains, minds, and selves. I also ask whether (and, if so, how) the increasing reliance on big data has changed public understandings of humans as individuals and/or as representatives of specific gendered, sex(ualiz)ed, and racialized groups. The project will result in traditional written outputs as well as digital products, including an interactive map tracing the travel of quantifying technologies across time, space, and disciplinary boundaries. My hope is that such a map will provide opportunity to engage non-academic audiences in conversations about epistemic colonialism.
I am also working on a book manuscript examining the ways in which definitions of manual preference have shaped research on the brain and mind since the 1860s. The current working title is Sinister Intersectionality: A Left-Handed History of Neuro-Centrisms.

Teaching Interests

  • History and philosophy of science, sex/gender and science, history of medicine, bio- and neuroethics, medical humanities and neuro-humanities, digital humanities.
  • Affiliated Faculty Member in Philosophy and Affiliated Faculty Member in Gender Studies

Course Offerings

Spring 2022:
Big Brain Data: Histories and Ethics
Biomedical Ethics
Module on “Medical Thought Styles” in Health, Culture, and Societies: Interdisciplinary Explorations

Fall 2021:
A History of Biomedicine
Broken Brains, Broken Souls: Patient Experiences in Neurology and Psychiatry since 1800
Spring 2021:
Race, Gender, and Sex(uality) in the History of the Mind and Brain Sciences
January Interterm 2021:
The Replication Crisis and Open Science

Fall 2020:
Medicine and Literature
Spring 2020:
The Mystery of Lefty Brains: An Introduction to Digital Text Analysis and the History of Handedness Research
Here’s My Number: Quantifying Human Bodies, Identities, and Behaviors Since 1800
Substance Use and Harm Reduction: Then, Now, and for a Better Future
January Interterm 2020:
Politics of Yellow Fever in Alexander Hamilton’s America

Fall 2019:
A History of Biomedicine
Broken Brains, Broken Souls: Patient Experiences in Neurology and Psychiatry since 1800

Previous Teaching Experience

Graduate Level:
Life of Brain: Selves and Societies in the Age of the Brain and Mind Sciences
Undergraduate Level:
Emergence of Modern Science
The Information Age
Health and Societies: Global Perspectives
Medicine in History
Ars Rationalis I (Logic I)

Selected Publications

  • “Contested Numbers: The Failed Negotiation of Objective Statistics in a Methodological Review of Kinsey et al.’S Sex Research.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43, no. 1 (2021): 13.
  • “An Even-Handed Debate? The Sexed/Gendered Controversy over Laterality Genes in British Psychology, 1970s–1990s.” History of the Human Sciences 33, no. 5 (2020): 138–66.
  • “Broca’s Approach Is Outdated: Ethical and Epistemic Problems with the Exclusion of Left-Handed Subjects from Neuroscientific Studies.” AJOB Neuroscience 9, no. 1 (2018): W1–W2.
  • “Something Old, Something New, Something Pseudo, Something True: Pejorative and Deferential References to Phrenology Since 1840.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 161, no. 4 (2017): 299–332.
  • “Matters of Sex and Gender in F.J. Gall’s Organology: A Primary Approach.” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 23, no. 4 (2014): 377–94.

Weblog and CV