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Coming to Mind: Pre-Histories of the Unconscious

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Organizer: Andrea Gadberry

Co-Organizer: Gerard Passannante

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“The oldest and the best meaning of the word ‘unconscious,’” wrote Freud in 1932, “is the descriptive one: we call a psychical process unconscious whose existence we are obliged to assume—for some such reason as that we infer from its effects—but of which we know nothing.” 

This seminar calls for papers on historical forms (or historical alternatives to) the unconscious. How might works of literature and philosophy before Freud allow us to better understand what will later come to be known the “unconscious”? What forms of thinking and knowing (or of not-thinking and not-knowing) do such pre-histories illuminate, and how might they help us examine those other “psychical process[es]…we are obliged to assume.” How do such accounts help us understand the thoughts, perceptions, and feelings that evade our awareness or structure the possibility of awareness going unannounced (how do such papers help us understand what thoughts, perceptions, and feelings are)?

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