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Berkeley Psychoanalytic Society
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Oakland, CA 64610


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The Maternal: Psychoanalysis, Literature and Film

Saturday, October 12, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Theorizing our relation to the concept of “the Maternal” has been an ongoing psychoanalytic project:

Dr. Claire Kahane will speak about the underplayed aspect of “maternal rage”, an ambiguous term, referring both to the child’s rage against the maternal object, and the mother’s rage against not only the child, but the very concept of the maternal. The two are inevitably intertwined, more so if the child is a girl. Referring to psychoanalytic writers who have explored the dark side of maternal subjectivity as well as its recuperation of agency, she will exemplify her more abstract remarks with references to the fiction of Flannery O’Connor

Dr. Marilyn Fabe in order to better understand the workings of Woody Allen’s comic genius, will look through the lens of self-psychology, and especially the theoretical perspective of the founder of self-psychology, Heinz Kohut. Based on evidence of Allen’s early life laid out in his biographies and interviews, plus evidence of recurring jokes and themes that appear in his writings and films, she argues that the incompatibility between Allen’s parents and their precocious, gifted son resulted in psychological wounds that he was able to assuage through his extra-ordinary gift for comedy. Dr. Fabe’s focus will be the dynamic jokes in Allen’s comic writings that target mothers or maternal figures.


Berkeley City Club
2315 Durant Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704 United States

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Claire Kahane, Ph.D.

Claire Kahane is Professor Emerita of English at the University at Buffalo, a research Associate in the Department of English at the University of California, Berkeley, a community member of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, where she trained, and a board member of the Berkeley Psychoanalytic Society. She has published numerous articles and a few books on gender theory, modern British and American fiction, gothic literature, and literary representations of Holocaust trauma. Currently based in Berkeley, Dr. Kahane has just completed a picaresque memoir entitled Nine Lives: Adventures in Becoming, and is working on a book-length connection of essays on Ian McEwan's fiction entitled Redeeming the Imp of the Perverse: Ian McEwan's Fictional Trajectory.

Marilyn Fabe, Ph.D.

Marilyn Fabe is a Senior Lecturer Emerita in the Department of Film and Media at the University of California, Berkeley where she has taught courses in film history and film theory for over forty years. In addition to her book Closely Watched Films: Introduction to the Art of Narrative Film (University of California Press, 2004, rev. ed. 2014), Dr. Fabe has written psychobiographical articles on Maya Deren, Orson Welles, Charles Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock. Her latest essay on Hitchcock, "Shooting to Kill: Hitchcock's Heroines and the Perverse Scenario" is forthcoming in William Runyan, ed., Examining Lives: Self-Reflections in Psychobiography, Oxford University Press. Dr. Fabe is currently working on a psychobiography of Woody Allen.

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