Possibilities of the New: The Subject of Truth in Psychoanalysis - April 22-23, 2011; abstracts due Feb. 1, 2011

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Cornell University Psychoanalysis Reading Group
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Possibilities of the New: The Subject of Truth in Psychoanalysis

Featuring Keynote Speakers:
Ed Pluth, Associate Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Chico, and author of Badiou: A Philosophy of the New (2010) and Signifiers and Acts: Freedom in Lacan's Theory of the Subject (2007).

Charles Shepherdson, Professor of English at SUNY Albany and author of Lacan and the Limits of Language (2008) and Vital Signs: Nature, Culture, Psychoanalysis (2000).

April 22-23, 2011
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

One of Freud's great discoveries was that the truth of the unconscious reveals itself through effects, through symptoms and through disruptions in speech, and thus resists the ego's sense-making efforts. Jacques Lacan tells us that inasmuch as truth can be spoken it is always a mi-dire, a half saying, because language is structurally incapable of saying it all. Lacan himself signaled this problem through his turn to mathemes and other types of formal writing. At the same time, despite truth's apparent elusiveness, Lacan places it at the center of psychoanalytic undertaking—both in its theory and its practice.

Because language is the raw material of its enquiry and practice, psychoanalysis enjoyed a privileged position in theory's linguistic turn, but now that theorists seek to go beyond the impasses that this turn occasioned, psychoanalysis has come under criticism for its apparent complicity in leading us to theoretical, aesthetic, and political dead-ends. Alain Badiou, for one, foregrounds the simultaneously central and marginal place Lacan's (anti-philosophical) thought occupies in recent attempts to re-introduce the category of the subject and truth into the fields of social theory and post-foundational political ontology. So while he uses Lacan to articulate his theory of truth, he also argues that the stakes of psychoanalysis are ultimately bound up in demonstrating the limits of language itself. As such, the only truth that it can transmit is that signification fails. Theoretical interventions, like those of Badiou, thus ask us to reconsider the status of truth within psychoanalysis both for itself and as a touchstone for the diverse faces of theory after the linguistic turn.

For our 2011 conference, the Psychoanalysis Reading Group proposes to address the status and function of truth in psychoanalysis. We encourage submissions that engage with the question of truth in psychoanalysis from diverse perspectives. Possible questions may include: Is truth a horizon of psychoanalytic thought? With what truth does psychoanalysis deal? Does it reveal a truth? Does it produce a truth? How does psychoanalytic truth relate to other theories of truth? Does it interact with or contest these? What are its political and social implications? What is the truth of the subject? Is truth tied to a particular temporality? What kinds of distinctions and connections between speech and act may the truth draw? What is the relation between truth and sexual difference? Between truth and jouissance? What does psychoanalytic truth have to offer feminism and gender studies?

The deadline for submission of abstracts is February 1, 2011. Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. Presenters will have 25 minutes each for their presentations with ample time for discussion afterward. Please send abstracts to PARGconference@gmail.com. Notices of acceptances will be sent by February 15, 2011.