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Psychoanalysis in the Vernacular: Global Modernisms and the Question of Difference

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Organizer: Rachel Greenspan

Co-Organizer: Esther Sanchez-Pardo

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Psychoanalysis and Modernism have been “traveling” disciplines moving with peculiar (a)synchronicities since their inception. Taking psychoanalysis as an object of modernist cultural production as much as a hermeneutic method in perpetual translation, this seminar considers the heterogeneous emplacements of psychoanalysis in the world, tied inextricably to modern processes of migration, displacement, and (de)colonization. Historical accounts of psychoanalysis’s global reception tend to frame its non-European iterations as derivatives of Freud’s originary work, circulating transnationally during the height of imperial expansion. This critical tendency mirrors traditional designations of postcolonial literature and visual art as derivatives of European aesthetic innovations.
Challenging the logic of the derivative and drawing on new modernist provocations to expand the time, space, and archive of modernism, this seminar aims to explore the ways in which psychoanalysis is vernacularized and mobilized in distinct geographical sites and historical moments to negotiate contingent experiences of modernity. In particular, the seminar seeks to bring global modernist discourses on alterity into conversation with psychoanalytic theories of sexual difference. How has the global diffusion of psychoanalysis influenced local understandings of sexuality, non-hegemonic sex and gender ascriptions, adolescence, maternity, reproductive technologies, and vice versa? How might the aesthetic, clinical, spatial, and formal conventions of psychoanalysis reflect regional demands for new political subjectivities and horizons? Lines of inquiry may include: the formal analysis of psychoanalytic texts; comparative approaches to psychoanalytic practices; investigations into modern technologies of self-representation, architectures of the consulting room, theories of subjectivity and difference, intersections between psychoanalysis and other modern disciplines, such as anthropology, psychology, economics, criminology, etc.

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