Psychoanalytic Readings of Language, the Unconscious, and the Desire for the Object
By Dr Rebecca Lindsay
Abstract PhD Thesis Dr Rebecca Lindsay
Congratulations to CIRCL PhD student Rebecca Lindsay for passing her viva on 20-01-2021 with her thesis on ‘Psychoanalytic Readings of Language, the Unconscious, and the Desire for the Object’. External Examiner: Professor Daniela Caselli (University of Manchester) and Internal Examiner Dr Sue Walsh, supervisor Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein.
Abstract of thesis
This thesis considers the ‘object’ as a question, instead of as a self-speaking, autonomous, material entity, drawing on critical and literary theorist Jacqueline Rose’s interpretation of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis in The Case of Peter Pan or the Impossibility of Children’s Fiction (1984), where Rose argues that “[c]hildhood is not an object, any more than the unconscious, although this is often how they are both understood.” Rose in this understanding of childhood, the unconscious, and the object (and anything or anybody else) as to be read, in turn draws on related interpretations of psychoanalysis in the works of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, the French philosopher Jacques Derrida and the American literary theorist Shoshana Felman.
In such interpretations, psychoanalysis is not considered as a knowledge to be applied to texts but as an approach to reading, specifically in relation to reading not with pre-accepted structures but as a continuous consideration of perspectives. Accordingly, this thesis also does not offer a historical context nor a literature review or survey but offers readings as examples of recurring issues involved in the implications of this kind of psychoanalytic reading.
This thesis therefore ranges from a reading of John Keats’s poem ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’ (1819) in relation to ideas of the ‘urn’ as an ‘object’, to philosophers of the history of science Loraine Daston and Peter Galison’s book Objectivity: A History (2010), to the Swiss French psychologist Jean Piaget’s writings on the child and development in relation to the child as ‘object’ (1932), to British critical psychologists Henriques et al’s critique of the subject (1984), to the writings of American gender theorist Judith Butler considering the body as material object (1991). This thesis does not include nor aims for a conclusion but is constituted as itself a demonstration of a reading in perspective.