Event Date: 11 – 12 March 2015
University of Warwick
Warwick CV4 7AL
Lucian Freud, Narcissus (1948) © Tate, London 2014
Narcissism and Melancholia: Reflections on a Century
This centenary symposium brings together scholars and writer-practitioners of psychoanalysis to consider the legacy of two of Sigmund Freud’s most important metapsychological papers: ‘On Narcissism: An Introduction’ (1914) and ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ (1915).
Although both narcissism and melancholia have pre-Freudian histories, it is, arguably, their formative status in psychoanalytic theory that accounts for their enduring interest as clinical and cultural signifiers in contemporary discourse. With these two papers, written at a time of unprecedented social and political turmoil, Freud establishes the difficulties of setting apart the inner and the outer worlds, and of preserving an image of the bounded subject. But how has our reading of Freud’s thought, and our appraisal of the so-called Freudian subject, been challenged by the intervening century? How have ideas of narcissism and melancholia been reimagined by developments in critical and cultural theory such as post-colonialism, post-secularism, queer theory, or eco-criticism? Moreover, if theories of narcissism and melancholia remain germane to analyses of contemporary subjectivities, what of the place of psychoanalysis more broadly?
The interdisciplinary significance of the terms narcissism and melancholia will be reflected by the different speakers at this symposium event. Papers will engage with debates in twentieth century social history, cultural theory, gender studies, philosophy, psychoanalysis, psychosocial studies, and the history of medicine.
Professor Elizabeth Lunbeck (Harvard) – Whatever happened to healthy Narcissism?
Professor Ranjana Khanna (Duke) – Unbelonging: Psychoanalysis, Postcoloniality, Dis/Possession
Professor Stephen Frosh (Birkbeck) – Narcissism, Melancholia, Paranoia: Relationality in a time of surveillance