Conference on Freud in Contemporary Culture

The Whitney Humanities Center at Yale, with the assistance of the Woodward Lectures Fund, will host a symposium, “Whose Freud? The Place of Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture,” on Friday and Saturday, April 3-4. All conference panels will be held at Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, corner of Grove and Prospect streets. Sessions are free and the public is welcome.

The Freud conference will include panels featuring scholars from Yale, University of California at Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, Duke, Chicago, Rice and Cornell, as well as from France, England and Eastern Europe.

“The moment seems well chosen for a searching reassessment of where and how psychoanalysis survives in our culture,” says Peter Brooks, the Tripp Professor of Humanities and director of the Whitney Humanities Center. Brooks organized the conference to consider key questions, including: “Should we conclude that psychoanalysis has moved from its base in medical science to become one of the hermeneutic arts? Have social conditions made its therapeutic applications outmoded? How does it contribute to cultural analysis?”

The participants will consider the status of psychoanalysis as a discipline and a discourse in contemporary culture, Brooks notes. Once solidly established within medical-therapeutic practices, psychoanalysis has increasingly been challenged by other forms of therapy. Philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists, literary critics and feminist scholars have questioned its validity, some rallying to its defense, others rejecting it. Debates have raged over some of the most basic assumptions, including recovered memories, repression and the role of psychoanalysis within the legal system.

The symposium schedule follows:

Friday, April 3

“Psychoanalysis and Its Discontents,” 10 a.m.-noon

Panelists: Frederick Crews (UC Berkeley), Robert Michels, M.D. (Cornell), Judith Butler (UC Berkeley), Juliet Mitchell (Cambridge) Moderator: Peter Brooks (Yale)

“Psychoanalysis, Between Therapy and Hermeneutics?” 2-4 p.m.

Panelists: Toril Moi (Duke), Hubert Damisch (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales), Peter Lowenberg (UCLA), Mary Jacobus (Cornell) Moderator: Esther da Costa Meyer (Yale)

“Psychoanalysis and Sexual Identity,” 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Panelists: Paul Robinson (Stanford), Kaja Silverman (UC Berkeley), Leo Bersani (UC Berkeley), Slavoj Zizek (University of Ljubljana) Moderator: Katherine Kearns (Yale)

Saturday, April 4

“Psychoanalysis and the Historiography of Modern Culture,” 10 a.m.-noon

Panelists: Dominick LaCapra (Cornell), Eric Santner (Chicago), Meredith Skura (Rice), Robert J. Lifton, M.D. (John Jay College of Criminal Justice). Moderator: Kevis Goodman (UC Berkeley)

“Psychoanalysis and Theories of Mind,” 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Panelists: Morton Reiser, M.D. (Yale), David Forrest, M.D. (Columbia), Robert Shulman (Yale), Arnold Cooper, M.D. Moderator: Elise Snyder (Yale)

“Psychoanalysis: What Kind of Truth?” 4-6 p.m.

Panelists: Richard Wollheim (UC Berkeley), Jonathan Lear (Chicago), Donald Davidson (UC Berkeley), John Forrester (Cambridge). Moderator: Peter Gay (Yale)

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