CALL FOR PAPERS – SUMMER SYMPOSIUM July 31st– August 7th 2011
Venue: Falsterbo educational centre, 20 km South of Malmö, Southern Sweden
“A man of letters by instinct, though a doctor by necessity, I conceived the idea of changing over a branch of medicine—psychiatry—into literature,” writes Freud in a letter to Giovani Papini. Thus he asserts the inextricable relation between the psychoanalytic take on psychopathology and the subjective narrative that serves as its vehicle. The narrative that is produced and re-produced in the analytic session moulds the past, infancy and childhood, the present and the manifold hypothetical futures. Phantasmal narratives and images can be regarded, on the one hand, as intensely asocial, a private world of pleasure and pain; while on the other, they constitute the psychic glue that binds communities together, as in the shared myths of a group or a nation. Each individual, to Freud, “is bound by ties of identification in many directions,” and “therefore has a share in numerous group minds.” The myth of the hero, “the step by which the individual emerges from group psychology” embarking on a flight of fancy, nevertheless preserves clear traces of the facts which were disavowed. Narratives and iconic images can function as protective fictions, as façades barring the way to memories. Thus psychoanalytic thinking can function politically as a lens that makes visible the unconscious reflections of social power-structures in the story or pictorial representation.
Psychoanalytic thinking may also investigate how processes of imaginative re-elaboration or working through, enable a partial recognition of memory, allowing for as much as is bearable of history to come to light, making past atrocities or sufferings more tolerable, constituting containment or perhaps mourning. Analogously, one might here think of Ferenczi’s description of dreams as attempts at better mastery and settling of traumatic experiences, aiming to establish a balance between forced repetition and wish-fulfilment as denial. “Any sorrows can be borne,” wrote Karen Blixen, “if you can put them into a story or tell a story about them.” In these artistic products, the collective can be criticized, questioned, transformed, uncovered, appealed to or held; the subjective may, in turn, be found in the resisting or in the transgressing, in the protesting or in the self-sacrificial, the appeal to its assertion or dissolution.
The focus of this Symposium is the psychoanalytic interrogation of the political in terms of its narrativity and iconography, its readings, counter-readings, interpretations, transmissions and transgressions. This encompasses the junction of politics and psychoanalysis with literature, media, rhetorics, film, linguistics and public images. Possible subjects of inquiry include depictions of, and engagements with, social stratification, sexualized politics, such as the role of (polarized) heterosexuality or homosexuality, dramatizations of oedipal scenarios, narratives of colonization, or the role of violence and shared myths of origin in political fantasies of the primal scene. In addition, new forms of minimal narratives that have proved to meet the political, such as Facebook or Twitter, may also be brought into question. These challenge traditional understandings of individual and collective symbolic agency as well as notions of authorship and addressee, and prompt engagement and militancy in political rebellions, ecological activism and individual causes.
This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, literary theorists, historians and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome. The symposium takes place from the 31st of July to the 7th of August at Falsterbo educational centre 20 kilometres South of Malmö, in Southern Sweden. It is situated by the sea – allowing for swimming during breaks – and it is just a short train ride from Copenhagen airport. This is a relatively small symposium, in a friendly and enjoyable social atmosphere, where active participation is encouraged. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 10th 2011.
Non-exclusive list of relevant literature
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Balint, E. (1989) “Creative Life” in E. Balint/J. Mitchell/M. Parsons eds. Before I was I. Psychoanalysis and the Imagination. London: Free Association Books, 1993.
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Clarke, A. Language, Hybridity, and Dialogism in The God of Small Things. In Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. Ed. Tickell, A. London: Routledge. 2007.
Deleuze, G./ Guattari, F. (new ed. 2004) Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia New York: Continuum.
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Derrida, J. Of Grammatology. Buenos Aires: Silgo Veintiun Editores.
Figlio, K. (2001) Psychoanalysis, Science and Masculinity. Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge.
Ferenczi, S. (1931) “On the Revision of the Interpretation of Dreams”, Notes and Fragments in S. Ferenczi/M. Balint ed. Final Contributions to the Problems and Methods of Psycho-Analysis. London/New York: Karnac Books, 1994.
Foucault, M. What is an author? Unedited.
Freud, S. (1908e) Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming. SE vol. 9.
Freud, S. (1911) Psychoanalytic notes on an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia (Dementia Paranoides). SE Vol. 12.
Freud, S. (1912-1913) Totem and Taboo. SE vol. 13.
Freud, S. (1921) Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. SE vol. 18.
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Greedharry, M. (2008) Postcolonial Theory and Psychoanalysis: From Uneasy Engagements to Effective Critique. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Klein, M. (1930) “The Importance of Symbol-Formation in the Development of the Ego” both in Love, Guilt and Reparation. USA: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence.
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Milner, M. (1955) “The Role of Illusion in Symbol-Formation”, in New Directions in Psychoanalysis, ed. M. Klein et al.; republished in Milner (1987), pp. 83-11
Mitscherlich, A./Mitscherlich, M. (1975) The Inability to Mourn: Principles of Collective Behavior. New York: Grove Press/Random House.
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Zizek, S. (1995): The Sublime Object of Ideology, New York, Verso.