CFP: Psychoanalysis in Our Time 2016 – Psychoanalysis and Femininity

Maritime Museum, Gdansk, Poland – 8th-10th April 2016


Now in its third year – and following the great success of sessions in Copenhagen, Sauðárkrókur, Tallinn and Druskininkai – the Psychoanalysis in Our Time research network is very pleased to announce t our next event, which will take place in Gdansk, Poland from 8th to 10th April 2016. The topic for this symposium will be “Psychoanalysis and Femininity”.


For Freud, the feminine constituted a dark continent, and represented a riddle without precise answers. This understanding concerns men’s relationship to this continent, which seems to exclude the symbolic law. Jung, on the other hand, saw the feminine aspect of the collective unconscious, which he designated the “anima”, and described the Electra Complex, as a girl’s equivalent to the boy’s Oedipus Complex. The question of femininity, however, is also a question of identities.


Lacan discussed the issue of sexual difference throughout his work, culminating in his claim in Seminar XX: Encore that Woman doesn’t exist (meaning that it is impossible to theorize woman in the same way that he theorized man). He also made a claim for a particular, feminine jouissance, as well as, perhaps most controversially, describing women as “not all”: complex propositions both, which require very careful consideration. And in post-Lacanian psychoanalysis, it is the work of Colette Soler that gives clearest expression to What Lacan Said about Women. It was also Lacan who reclaimed Antigone as the figure of pathos – and the example of “not giving up on one’s desire” – in his Seminar VII, in effect replacing Oedipus with this tragic heroine as a paradigm for psychoanalysis.


Judith Butler, taking up the psychoanalytic distinction between sex and gender, has theorized the latter as performative, rather than biological. Queer theory has thus often tried to make the (female) sex question one of social construction. But can such social constructions change; how might psychoanalysis illuminate these processes?


The position of women in a social context has of course radically changed since Freud, and continues to do so – but the struggle against the patriarchal structures that psychoanalysis could be said to describe continues. What, then, defines women’s social positions, sexual identities and enjoyment today? What can we learn from a discussion between clinicians, practitioners, film and cultural scholars, and historians?


Possible topics will include (but are not limited to):

·      Psychoanalytically-informed feminisms and feminist critiques of psychoanalysis (e.g. Irigaray, Kristeva, Cixous; Shulamith Firestone)

·      The place of Antigone, Jocasta and other mythical women in psychoanalysis

·      Female sexuality and psychoanalysis

·      Feminine masquerade (from Joan Riviere to Mary Ann Doane)

·      Femininity and maternity in psychoanalysis

·      Lacan’s logic of sexuation; his formula “Woman doesn’t exist”

·      Feminine jouissance and the figure of the mystic

·      Film spectatorship, “to-be-looked-at-ness” (Mulvey); the female viewer

·      Female psychoanalysts and their role in the history of the discipline (from Spielrein and Andreas-Salomé, to Anna Freud and Klein, and beyond)

·      Binary categories of sexual difference, essentialism, and queer theory in (or against) psychoanalysis


Psychoanalysis in Our Time (http://psychoanalysisinourtime.wordpress.com) is an international research initiative with the Nordic Summer University and the Nordic Council of Ministers (http://nordic.university), with the aim of providing psychoanalytic interrogation of social, cultural and scientific issues. It is a trans-disciplinary network that aims to create a space for a dialogue between clinicians, academics and practitioners of psychoanalysis as well as scholars in other fields, including film, post-colonial, and literary studies in order to investigate and elaborate ways in which psychoanalytic thinking can assist in understanding the events and developments of our times.  Our ambition is to be rigorous and outrageous, scholarly and radical.


Please contact the conference organizers, Dr. Agnieszka Piotrowska (agnieszka.piotrowska@beds.ac.uk) or Dr. Ben Tyrer (ben.tyrer@kcl.ac.uk) for more information. Please follow the link to register here: https://psychoanalysisinourtime.wordpress.com/registration-3/

The registration fee is 140 BP (70 BP concessions) to include all tea, coffee and biscuits, light lunch, and conference dinner with wine. Payments by bank transfer or PayPal.


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