After Freud and Lacan: Methods for Engaging with Contemporary Psychoanalytic Theory

Natalie Strobach Announcement
Massachusetts, United States
Subject Fields
French History / Studies, German History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Literature, Psychology

This hybrid panel/workshop for the 2016 meeting of the ACLA at Harvard University aims to reframe psychoanalytic discourse within literary analysis by drawing our attention to literary theory's resistance to co-evolving alongside psychoanalysis. Primarily, we will ask what it means to do a psychoanalytic reading in the 21st century, a psychoanalytic reading no longer married to Freud, but instead employing nearly 100 years of post-Freudian clinical work and contemporary analytic discourse. Furthermore, we will investigate Lacan’s hold on literary theory --why of all of Freud's children did we hold so tightly to Lacan? And how might new evolutions in the Lacanian tradition of psychoanalytic practice propel our literary understanding in new directions? Conversely, we hope to also consider contemporary examples of psychoanalytic practice enriched by literary theory, as we saw in the classic case of Lacan’s engagement of Poe’s “Purloined Letter.”

We will investigate the enormous discrepancy between the philosophical and literary evolution of psychoanalysis on one hand and what is a transformative and rapidly evolving clinical discourse on the other. How can we prescribe a literary analysis with what would be, amongst clinicians, an archaic understanding of psychopathology? How may we better incorporate the voices of groundbreaking and highly influential women analysts from Freud's own daughter Anna to Therese Benedek, Helene Deutsch, Melanie Klein, and Nancy Chodorow – and how must literary scholars’ understanding of the role of the woman and the other in psychoanalysis be adapted to countenance those voices? Finally, how might our understanding of the other be enriched by contemporary psychoanalytic theory’s expansive work on socioeconomic disparities? With all this in mind, what futures can we imagine for the literary application of psychoanalysis? How can cutting-edge psychoanalytic discourse on subjects like gender reassignment, non-binary gender identities and sexualities, technoculture, and globalization be incorporated into our literary discourse?

In addition to engaging the academic literary discourse on psychoanalysis, this panel/workshop also hopes to explore methodologies for teaching psychoanalysis in the contemporary undergraduate classroom. How do we teach psychoanalysis beyond Freud, especially given that most undergraduates have only heard psychoanalysis disparaged in pop culture and even in contemporary psychology? We very much look forward to presentations and papers that expand the margins of psychoanalytic reading. We also appreciate contributions to pedagogical models for teaching psychoanalysis, and are strongly attracted to papers that move beyond the humanistic roots of early psychoanalysis to consider contemporary psychoanalysis’s contributions to the discourse on posthumanism and/or animal studies.

Contact Information

The American Comparative Literature Association's 2016 Annual Meeting will take place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts March 17-20, 2016.

The ACLA's annual conferences have a distinctive structure in which most papers are grouped into twelve-person seminars that meet two hours per day for three days of the conference to foster extended discussion. Some eight-person (or smaller) seminars meet just the first two days of the conference. This structure allows each participant to be a full member of one seminar, and to sample other seminars during the remaining time blocks. Depending on space availability, we may also consider accepting a limited number of one-day seminars, especially if they are innovative either in presentation format or in terms of theme. The conference also includes plenary sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions, and other events.

Our online portal will open for seminar submissions in early July, with a deadline of August 31. Individuals interested in participating in a particular seminar are encouraged to be in touch with the organizers over the summer; paper submissions through the portal will open Sept. 1 and close Sept. 23.

Contact Email