In “Trans Realism, Psychoanalytic Practice, and the Rhetoric of Technique” Grace Lavery argues that, in Eliot’s early, definitive statement of realism in the seventeenth chapter of Adam Bede, realism will only have been accomplished when readers have learned not merely to respect, but to desire, the dysphorically sexed bodies of others. In this sense, Lavery argues, realism shares a central tenet with two of the more controversial and, frankly, neglected dimensions of Freudian thinking – which Freud himself took to be indispensable components in the treatment of neurotics – castration complex and penis envy. Though post-Freudian analysts have frequently found these dimensions of libidinal embodiment distasteful, to trans people they are central and in certain respects definitive aspects of social participation. Hence, while trans studies tends to eschew psychoanalysis altogether, and the only psychoanalysts to write about trans people tend to be Lacanians for whom “technique” is a mystification, re-appraising the “realist” dimension of psychoanalytic practice can reveals the trans logic at the core of both Freud’s project and Eliot’s.
Berkeley City Club
2315 Durant Avenue
Saturday, March 21, 2020
10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Grace Lavery is Associate Professor in the Department of English at UC Berkeley, where she is affiliated with the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, and the Program in Critical Theory. Her research focuses on the history and theory of aesthetics, and on trans feminist accounts of the self. Her first book, Quaint, Exquisite: Victorian Aesthetics and the Idea of Japan was published by Princeton University Press in 2019, and her essays have appeared or will appear in Critical Inquiry; Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies; Modernism/modernity;
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