Lacan and the Nonhuman (collection of essays) Jonathan Michael Dickstein and Gautam Basu Thakur (Editors)

In today’s global landscape, the category of the “human” has assumed a principal position not simply in terms of its ontological centrality but also in relation to surrounding nonhuman worlds. At stake are questions ranging from the impact of humans on the biosphere (the Anthropocene) to their involvement in the virtual world (Knowledge Commons and Ergodicity) to their experiences of the “inner life” of things (Object-oriented ontology and Affect Theory) to the ethical politics over the Other (the terrorist, the refugee, the queer). Coming together at the intersection of these recent turns toward new speculative considerations, and the various epistemological and communitarian questions they raise in the context of twenty-first- century scholarship, this collection asks: how can Lacanian theory contribute to the continuing discussions about the nonhuman?

Psychoanalysis (specifically, the Lacanian strain) has made various attempts to formalize the relationship between the human and its radical (nonhuman) Other. As early as the unpublished “Project for a Scientific Psychology” (1895), Freud offered considerations concerning the Nebenmensch (neighbor) in terms of a distinct division between the familiar and what inhabits the familiar as its unknowable traumatic core. This idea recurs throughout most of Freud’s subsequent writings and thereafter with critical innovations in the Seminars of Jacques Lacan and, more recently, in Slavoj Žižek’s writings on late-capitalist culture.

However, while providing these resources, psychoanalysis goes almost unmentioned in today’s scholarship on the “nonhuman.” Given this serious critical lacuna, the present collection has two related aims: firstly, to engage in active interpretative intervention of the terms human and nonhuman and thereby, secondly, to inaugurate dialogues between nonhuman/materialist turns and Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis. Contrasted with terms like inhuman, unhuman, and antihuman in existing scholarship, “nonhuman” entails a relationship to its stem word not in terms of inferiority, exclusive disjunction, or mere conflict, but rather according to its independence from, yet engagement with it. As the essays in this collection variously illustrate, a Lacanian approach to the nonhuman therefore affords us the ability to deem it, along with the human, normative (rather than normal) and while not fixed still representative, affective, and real.

We are interested in essays that explore questions and issues related to Lacan/psychoanalytic theory and the nonhuman (broadly defined), including:

  • Biological concepts in Freud’s writings
  • The object, the thing, the apparatus, the matheme in Lacan’s work
  • Freud, Lacan, Žižek and the primitive, subaltern, Third World (Lévi-Strauss,

    Descola, Spivak, Bhabha)

  • Freud,Lacan,Žižekandbiopolotics,affects,counterpublics,barelife,thequeer

    (Foucault, Agamben, Butler, Berlant, Ahmed, Leys)

  • Freud, Lacan, Žižek and constructivism, Actor-Network Theory, systems

    theory (Deleuze/Guattari, Latour, Luhmann)

  • Freud,Lacan,Žižekandfilm,newmedia,apparatustheory,narratology,genre

    studies, aesthetic politics, digital humanities, knowledge commons

  • Freud,Lacan,ŽižekandthelegacyofGermanIdealism
  • Freud,Lacan,Žižekandtheethics/politicsofSpeculativerealism(Meillassoux,

    Harman, Bryant, Brassier)

  • Post-psychoanalyticconceptionsoftheNeighbor,alien,Event,computation,

    monotheism/polytheism (Levinas, Althusser, Badiou)

  • Lacan and Ecocriticism and animal studies

Please submit short (250- to 350-word) abstracts to lacanandnonhuman@gmail.com by July 22, 2016. Questions concerning the project may be sent via email to this same address.

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