Working Through Psychoanalysis:
Freud’s Legacy in Art, Cinema, Literature and Popular Culture*
An interdisciplinary conference at the University of Leeds, UK
15–17 April, 2011
DM Thomas,author of The White Hotel
Professor David Lomas, University of Manchester
Call for Papers
How can we understand and take stock of the legacy of psychoanalysis for culture at large? Since its inception in the late nineteenth century, psychoanalytic thought has come to exert a powerful influence over critical discourse in the humanities, becoming one of the key theoretical resources in the analysis of art, cinema, literature and popular culture. However, comparatively little sustained attention has been given to the ways in which the variety of cultural forms have themselves registered, reflected and refracted the impact of Freud’s discovery, or have been fundamentally (re)shaped by it.
This conference will bring together clinicians, creative practitioners, and scholars from a range of disciplines in order to explore Freud’s cultural legacy: that is, a. the ways in which psychoanalysis has influenced, re-inflected or transformed certain modes of aesthetic practice and cultural production outside the clinic; and b. the transmission, development and interrogation of psychoanalysis within creative cultural forms which are not explicitly bounded by theoretical orthodoxies or therapeutic imperatives. In short, “Working Through Psychoanalysis” seeks to examine the cultural life and afterlife one of the most far reaching and widely recognised developments in the history of medicine. Provisionally suspending the classical interpretative paradigm whereby psychoanalysis is positioned as a critical lens through which to read cultural phenomena, “Working Through Psychoanalysis” aims to explore the ways in which the psychoanalytic discovery has itself reconfigured the frame of cultural reference and creative possibility, and to examine the myriad interpretations, disseminations and (mis)representations of psychoanalysis attempted within the cultural sphere during the last hundred years or so – from major aesthetic movements to pop-cultural manifestations.
Areas to be addressed might include (but are by no means limited to) the following:
• The impact of psychoanalysis on the development of particular forms of cultural production (cinema, literature, plastic arts…) and/or particular creative practitioners in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
• Creative reflections and refractions (fictional, visual, poetic, dramatic etc) of the history of psychoanalysis, of key figures in the movement, of psychoanalytic concepts, of the analyst/analysand relationship, the psychotherapeutic process etc.
• The increasing tendency for analysts to use creative work to explore and examine theoretical territory (Bollas, Ettinger, Fink, Kristeva etc).
• The creative possibilities which are opened up – and those which might be limited – by the conceptual inventions of psychoanalytic theory.
• The epistemological relationship between creative or fictional representations of psychoanalysis (e.g. in literature and film) and the ‘theoretical fictions’ by means of which psychoanalysis props up its own conceptual apparatuses.
• The extent to which creative reactions to or “workings-though” of psychoanalysis have generated/might generate legitimate interrogations and developments of psychoanalytic theory.
• The (mis)representations of Freud and psychoanalysis in the popular media (television, film, radio, the press) and at the Freud museums in Vienna and London.
• The social, intellectual, political etc exigencies which govern the popular fascination with Freud and psychoanalysis and/or the refraction of them in specific cultural domains.
Please send abstracts of 300 – 500 words to
by November 1, 2010.
*Part of the Leeds University “Medicine and the Everyday” project.
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