The history of a brain wound: Alexander Luria and the dialectics of Soviet plasticity

Hannah Proctor, Laura Salisbury

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter first discusses the Sublieutenant L. Zasetsky who, in 1943, received a devastating bullet wound that penetrated his brain and created, in an instant, a revolution of the self. Zasetsky was the subject of Russian neuropsychologist Alexander Luria’s famous 1971 “neurological novel” The Man with a Shattered World: A History of a Brain Wound. The book was written by Luria following twenty-five years of clinical observation and treatment. By giving back to Luria and Zasetsky’s “neurological novel” its historicity—its place within the history of aphasiology, but also, more significantly, by restoring it to its Soviet context—by returning this History of a Brain Wound to itself, the chapter hopes to render explicit the entanglement of neurobiology with a revolutionary politics of the social that insists on the Soviet conception of plasticity. It demonstrates how Luria and Zasetsky’s accounts of the plastic brain, and indeed the aphasic person embedded in a social world, are always and already objects and subjects of and in history in ways that demand the deconstruction of the idea of any given “brain fact” on which selves are built.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlasticity and Pathology
Subtitle of host publicationOn the Formation of the Neual Subject
EditorsDavid Bates, Nima Bassiri
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • plasticity
  • human brain
  • L. Zasetsky
  • Alexander Luria
  • neuroplasticity
  • history
  • historicity


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