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[UPDATE] Marxism and Psychoanalysis in the Twenty-First Century (MLA 2014)
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MLA 2014 Special Session
This is a proposed special session for the 2014 MLA Convention, which will be held from January 9-12, 2014 in Chicago, IL.
In his introduction to the Spring 1998 issue of South Atlantic Quarterly (Vol. 97, No. 2), entitled Psycho-Marxism: Marxism and Psychoanalysis Late in the Twentieth Century, editor Robert Miklitsch writes that "the current coincidence of Marxism and psychoanalysis cannot be thought outside its concrete, political-economic conditions of possibility. In other words,” he goes on, “for all its discursive surplus, the problematic of psycho-Marxism is not without a very real material stake, and this stake is not simply postmodernity but late or transnational capitalism.” This timely intervention in one of the foremost theoretical debates of the twentieth century, which features contributions from Slavoj Žižek, Teresa Brennan, Laurence A. Rickels, Eugene Victor Wolfenstein, Catherine Liu, and other globally renowned intellectuals representing various disciplinary backgrounds, marks a major assessment of the role that Marxism and psychoanalysis might play in the continually evolving field of critical theory.
Much has occurred since the publication of this highly influential issue—the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the continuing economic crises caused by the neo-liberal, “too big to fail” corporate approach to governance, exemplified in the deregulation policies and failed government oversight that resulted in the U.S. housing crisis and bank bailouts of 2008; the rise of new spectacle economies founded on internet-based entertainment and information industries, like Facebook and YouTube; the continuing failure of democratic governments to meet the basic needs of citizens, exemplified in F.E.M.A.’s response to Hurricane Katrina and current debates regarding access to healthcare; western nations’ response to civilian uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and Syria; the persistence of racism in the U.S. despite the election of the first African American president; the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactor and the rapidly unfolding global environmental crisis.
With these—and other—historic events in mind, this panel seeks to address the theoretical-methodological intersectionality of these two influential but controversial disciplines, with special focus on their current historical, cultural, and/or political relevancy and applicability. The main concern we seek to address is whether the intersection of Marxism and psychoanalysis still offers a useful theoretical approach in the twenty-first century.