Psychoanalysis & Film

Convenors: Marlo De Lara (University of Leeds), Agnieszka Piotrowska (University of Bedfordshire), Ben Tyrer (King’s College, London)



‘Psychoanalytic film theory post-1968 was significantly influenced by structuralism. It focused on highly abstract interrogations of the relationship between the spectator and the screen, focusing on apparatus, identification and the gaze. It produced important and lasting work (Baudry, Metz, Mulvey) but, as a mode of interrogation, it has now almost been abandoned in film studies, being replaced by seemingly more relevant analytical tools such as, cognitive psychology and recently neuroscience. Further, in some circles at least psychoanalysis is associated with patriarchal thinking and conservative politics.

And yet, psychoanalysis can also be seen also as a radical philosophy, which privileges a subjective bodily experience, dislodges tradition and acknowledges the unknowable. It is still the only system of thinking which is rooted both in the clinic and which has wider applications in other disciplines, including cultural theory and sociology (Bulter, Frosh, Žižek for example)’  (Embodied encounters: new approaches to psychoanalysis and cinema, edited by Agnieszka Piotrowska, 2015).

This group focuses on developing discussions regarding these theories and relevant and adjacent concepts such as psychoanalysis, psychosocial studies, affect, trauma, subjectivities, and (post)memory. The group aims to share networks and resources in further multidisciplinary research as well as practice-based knowledge.

Agnieszka Piotrowska and Ben Tyrer are co-ordinators of Psychoanalysis in Our Time. This interdisciplinary research network is supported by the Nordic Summer University  and the Nordic Council of Ministers, with the aim of providing psychoanalytic interrogation of social, cultural and academic issues. It is a trans-disciplinary network that aims to create a space for a dialogue between clinicians, academics and practitioners of psychoanalysis as well as scholars in other fields, including film, post-colonial, and literary studies in order to investigate and elaborate ways in which psychoanalytic thinking can assist in understanding the events and developments of our times. The network has recently published its first edited collection stemming from the meetings in Copenhagen and Tallinn, entitled Psychoanalysis and The Unrepresentable: from Culture to the Clinic.