Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture (Panel)


Comparative Literature / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Sean Kelly (Wilkes University)

Trisha Brady (Borough of Manhattan Community College-CUNY)

Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture

This panel examines the current status of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis as a critical intervention in the study of literature and culture. What, we ask, does psychoanalysis have to offer in our contemporary critical moment which often seems to privilege historicist critiques that interpret literary works within and against specific milieus of material culture? From the perspective of historicism and cultural studies, psychoanalysis, as a technique, has often been viewed as an instrument of “bio-power”; as a critical enterprise, it has been attacked for its supposed “phallocentrism.” And yet, much of the most compelling theoretical cultural critiques of the last two decades have been generated by theorists informed by, and engaged in critical conversations with, psychoanalytic theory (Slàvoj Žižek, Ernesto Laclau, Tim Dean, Parveen Adams, Joan Copjec, Mladen Dolar, Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks among many others). For this panel, we welcome papers that argue for the theoretical significance of psychoanalysis in literary studies both by repositioning this theory within the broader field of critical scholarship and by demonstrating the value of its central concepts through literary analysis. Please submit 250-word abstracts to Sean J. Kelly and Trisha Brady via the NeMLA website by September 30, 2017.

This panel examines the current status of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis as a critical intervention in the study of literature and culture. What, we ask, does psychoanalysis have to offer in our contemporary critical moment which often seems to privilege historicist critiques that interpret literary works within and against specific milieus of material culture? From the perspective of historicism and cultural studies, psychoanalysis, as a technique, has often been viewed as an instrument of “bio-power”; as a critical enterprise, it has been attacked for its supposed “phallocentrism.” And yet, much of the most compelling theoretical cultural critiques of the last two decades have been generated by theorists informed by, and engaged in critical conversations with, psychoanalytic theory (Slàvoj Žižek, Ernesto Laclau, Tim Dean, Parveen Adams, Joan Copjec, Mladen Dolar, Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks among many others). For this panel, we welcome papers that argue for the theoretical significance of psychoanalysis in literary studies both by repositioning this theory within the broader field of critical scholarship and by demonstrating the value of its central concepts through literary analysis.