Doctoral Candidate

Entered 2013

369 Cohen Hall
(office hours by appointment)

Curriculum Vitæ


SCAN Certificate (Graduate Student Certificate in Social, Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience), Center for Neuroscience & Society, University of Pennsylvania, 2015

M.A. (History and Culture of Science and Technology), Technichal University of Berlin, 2013

B.Sc. (Mathematics), Free University of Berlin, 2010

Research Interests

Attempts to classify and quantify unruly human characteristics are my historical passion. My dissertation, Sinister Intersectionality: A Left-Handed History of Neuro-Centrisms, 1865–2015, traces the continuities in scientific attempts to uncover the causes of manual preference. Sadly enough, this is a story of the persistence of prejudice against left-handers within the brain and mind sciences. This is not least because scientific handedness research has not primarily aimed at an etiology of handedness, but at a classification of different brain types. Since Pierre Paul Broca’s studies on aphasia in the 1860s, hand preference and brain morphology have been closely intertwined. Drawing on anatomical, genetic, and hormonal theories of the connection between the brain and the hand, scientists have used—and continue to do so—the seemingly value-free category of handedness to advance controversial scientific inquiries into the biological underpinnings of sex/gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, as well as physical and intellectual dis/abilities.

My side projects include measurement scales for human behavior and neuroscientists’ ambiguous references to the history of their field. My research connects both sides of the Atlantic by using English, French, and German sources. Close reading of published and archival sources, oral histories, as well as large-scale digital text analyses are my go-to tools.

Selected Work

Cornel, Tabea. “Broca’s Approach Is Outdated: Ethical and Epistemic Problems with the Exclusion of Left-Handed Subjects from Neuroscientific Studies.”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. doi:10.1080/21507740.2018.1433731.

Cornel, Tabea. “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.

Cornel, Tabea. “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. doi: 10.1080/0964704X.2014.885097.

Cornel, Tabea. “Ein Brief.” In Mein Nietzsche: Ein Projekt des Nietzsche-Forums München. Edited by Hans J. Becker et al., 49–51. Nordhausen: Traugott Bautz, 2009.

Teaching Fields

History and Philosophy of Science, STS, Gender and Science, Bio- and Neuroethics, History of Medicine


Faculty Bookshelf