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Current State: Published
505: The Symbolic

Instructor: Ashish Rajadhyaksha

This course attempts to track the relationship between available definitions of selfhood, and their link with issues of objectivity, the production of reality, and what psychoanalysis names the ‘symbolic order’. We shall explore this relationship over three areas:

The psychoanalytic conception of selfhood: the processes of splitting, externalisation, phantasy, identification and idealisation as defences of the ego. We will go into some detail into symbolic production, its perceived role, and the strongly transactional nature of subjectivity.

The location of objectivity in history: the ‘objectification of man by the state’. The rise of the citizen as an apparatus for defining object-relations. The conception and role of the nation in situating and narrativising tranactional subjectivity. National space as a space for projection and the state’s intervention into protocols of how to recognise and project/introject objectivity in order to establish an apparatus of discipline.

Techologies of objectivity-production: the arrival of technologies of reproduction and mediation of reality precisely at the interface of objectivity, as a means for efficient production of symbolic form. We shall investigate Renaissance painting in some detail, especially on the theory of the vanishing point, the perception of reality as constituting a perennial loss. We shall also investigate the European perception of the cinema, as a machine of visibility-production and its regurgitation of reality, on the field of this loss.



Week 1

Introduction to the Course

Initial Debate using The Intepretation of Dreams (v 4, The Pelican Freud Library)

Week 2
The ‘Conscious’ Self

Required Reading:

S. Freud: From The Interpretation of Dreams: ‘The Work of Displacement’, ‘The Means of Representation’, ‘Conditions of Representability’.
Other suggested reading: From Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (v 1, the Pelican Freud Library),
‘Censorship in Dreams’, ‘The Symbolic in Dreams’, ‘The Dream Work’
From On Metapsychology (v 11, the Pelican Freud Library), ‘The Unconscious’, pg 161-222.

Week 3
Technologies of Realism – 1


Required Reading:

E. Panofsky, ‘History of the Theory of Human Proportions’, from Meaning in the Visual Arts.

N. Bryson, From Vision and Painting, ‘The Natural Attitude’, ‘The Essential Copy’ and ‘Perceptualism’.
S. Freud, From Art & Literature (v 14 The Pelican Freud Library)‘The Moses of Michelangelo’, pg 250-282.
Suggested Reading: Andre Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism.

Week 4

Selfhood and Symbolism: Narrative Questions

Required Reading:

Hanna Segal, ‘Phantasy’, ‘Symbolism’, and ‘Mental Space and Elements of Symbolism’, in Segal, Dream, Phantasy and Art, Pg 16-63.
Joseph Sandler and Meir Perlow, ‘Internalization and Externalization’ and Sandler, ‘The Concept of Projective Identification’, in Joseph Sandler ed. Projection, Identification, Projective Identification, London: Karnac Books, 1989, pg 1-13.

Ashish Rajadhyaksha: ‘Revisiting The View From the Teashop’. On the painting by Bhupen Khakhar.
Suggested background reading: Geeta Kapur, Contemporary Indian Artists, and Bhupen Khakhar: A Retrospective, National Gallery of Modern Art.

Week 5

Further Questions on Narrative

Week 6

The Construction of Public Selfhood: Investigating the Symbolic Order

Required Reading:

K. Marx, ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law’, v 3, Karl Marx/Frederick Engels, Collected Works.
Ernest Renan, ‘What is a Nation?’ and Martin Thom, ‘Tribes Within Nations: The Ancient Germans and the History of Modern France’, in Homi K. Bhabha ed. Nation and Narration, (pg 8-43).

Etienne Balibar, ‘The Nation Form: History and Ideology’, from Balibar and Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambuiguous Identities.

Suggested reading:

Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition.
K. Marx, ‘The Holy Family’, in v 4, Karl Marx/Frederick Engels, Collected Works.

Week 7

The Symbolic Order and Hegemony – Further Considerations
E. Laclau/C. Mouffe
A. Gramsci
J. Butler
Ajit Choudhury

Week 8

‘Our’ Cultures - 1: National Biographies

Govardhanram Tripathi: Saraswatichandra
Sudhir Chandra
Shailesh Kapadia, ‘Dreams of Govardhanram Tripathi: A Psychoanalytic View’, Occasional Paper, Centre for Social Studies, Surat, Dec 1992.
Susie Tharu, ‘Citizenship and its Discontents’ in John/Nair ed. A Question Of Silence? The Sexual Economies of Modern India.

Week 9

‘Our’ Cultures - 2: Archaicness, Memory, Primitivity and The Present

Memory, Time and the Past

Required Reading:

Romila Thapar, ‘Time as a Metaphor of History’, in Thapar, History and Beyond.
Shahid Amin, Chauri Chaura: Event, Metaphor, Memory
Partha Chatterjee, ‘The Nation in Heterogeneous Time’.
Vivek Dhareshwar, ‘Our Time: History, Sovereignty, Politics’.

Suggested Reading:

F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, pg 190-255. (Selected Works v 3).
D.D. Kosambi, ‘Introduction’ and ‘Social and Economic Aspects of the Bhagavad Geeta’, in Myth And Reality.

Romila Thapar, ‘The Contribution of D.D. Kosambi to Indology’, in Cultural Pasts: Essays in Early Indian History.

Screening: Ritwik Ghatak, Ajantrik, and Meghe Dhaka Tara.

Week 10

Technologies of Realism - 2

In Conscious West

Out Unconscious Non-West

M. Foucault, ‘Technologies of the Self’.
Jean-Louis Comolli, ‘Machines of the Visible’, in Teresa de Laurentis and Stephen Heath (ed.) The Cinematic Apparatus, pg. 121-142.
Kaja Silverman, The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema, ‘Lost Objects and Mistaken Subjects: A Prologue’, ‘Body Talk’ and ‘The Fantasy of the Maternal Voice: Paranoia and Compensation’ (pg 1-101).
Jean-Pierre Oudart, ‘Cinema and Suture’, Screen v 18 n 4 (1977-78).

Week 11
Indigenous Theories of Psychoanalysis

Girindrasekhar Bose
Dhirendranath Ganguly
Sudhir Kakar
Ashish Nandy

Week 12
First Set of Student Presentations

Week 13
Second Set of Student Presentations

Week 14
Third Set of Student Presentations

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