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Knock Knock: Femininity, Fixation, Photography


From: Thursday, April 02, 2015, 11:30am

To: Thursday, April 02, 2015, 01:00pm

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Department of Germanic, Russian, and East European Languages & Literatures

172 College Avenue - Seminar Room


Workshop with Elissa Marder

Knock Knock: Femininity, Fixation, Photography

This paper explores how female sexuality both establishes the universal foundations of Freud’s metapsychology and is excluded from it via a reading of one Freud’s strangest and most provocative case presentations. In “A Case of Paranoia Running Counter to the Disease,” the first case history devoted to a woman after Dora, Freud recounts his brief encounter with a woman who is brought to Freud because she is suffering from a (presumably) paranoid delusion that her would-be lover has arranged to have her photographed during their sexual engagements. On the basis of his fictionalized account of this fictive case (the woman never actually enters into treatment with him), Freud establishes a curiously suggestive link between fixation, femininity, and photography and introduces, for the first time, the notion of “primal fantasies.” Moreover, in his analysis of the case, Freud not only associates photography with unconscious images about female sexuality produced by a female patient, but he implicitly assigns the role of unconscious photographer to himself and casts the woman into the place of a camera. By looking at the way femininity and fixation and photography come together in this powerful text, I propose to examine how and why Freud attributes quasiphotographic powers to female sexuality as a means of trying to produce a figure for unseen and un-seeable images that come from a primal and unrecoverable past.  

Elissa Marder is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Emory University where she is formally affiliated with the Departments of Philosophy and Women’s Studies. At Emory, she was also a founding member of the Emory Psychoanalytic Studies Program and served as its Director from 2001-2006. She holds honorary appointments at the London Graduate School and the European Graduate School and is also a member of the Executive Committee of SIPP&ISSP (International Society of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis). Her publications include: Dead Time: Temporal Disorders in the Wake of Modernity (Baudelaire and Flaubert) (Stanford University Press, 2001); The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Psychoanalysis, Photography, Deconstruction (Fordham University Press, 2012); Time for Baudelaire (Poetry, Theory, History). Eds. E.S. Burt, Elissa Marder, Kevin Newmark. Yale French Studies vol. 125/126 (Spring, 2014). 


Germanic, Russian and Eastern European Seminar Room
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