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CNPC 2: Screen Memories, Screen Cultures

With our current popular and critical preoccupation with digital screens and screen cultures, we readily forget that psychoanalysis since its inception has had a lot to say about screens. Specifically, psychoanalysis draws our attention to how screens mediate the difficult intersection of everyday experience with unconscious desire.

In his essay “Screen Memories” (1899), Freud asks why we tend to remember only indifferent details of our childhood experiences, including those whose emotional intensity would presumably leave an indelible impression on the memory. By way of an answer, Freud suggests that the psychical mechanism of repression selects these humdrum elements in order to disguise their associative links to others that directly evoke inappropriate fantasies and unsettling desires.

For his part, Lacan in his teaching develops an understanding of the screen as an aspect of the realm of appearances that serves to shield us from the Other’s expropriative gaze. In this sense, the screen is that opaque or ambiguous region of the visual field that provides us with a modicum of shelter from the ravages of an unmasterable, unlocatable, and often malevolent look. This look wields a forbidding power to trigger guilty self-reproach or leave us blushing in shame.

For its second volume of original and provocative work “Screen Fantasies, Screen Cultures,” CNPC invites the submission of papers that foreground the continued centrality of psychoanalytic theory to the contemporary study of media cultures.

How do we understand today’s proliferation of representational surfaces and spaces – today usually pixellated – psychoanalytically? Are the skeptics right – are we rearing new generations whose often compulsive attachment to their screens bespeaks a decreased or degraded capacity to confront the difficult challenges of psychic and social life? Or do digital screens offer new pathways to sublimation, that is to the negotiation of unconscious conflict through intellectual and aesthetic creation? Also, how do screens mediate the construction and deconstruction of social identities and desire?

We are especially interested in work that builds bridges between psychoanalytic theory and criticism broadly conceived and the cognate fields of media studies, visual studies, film studies, art theory, internet studies, and the digital humanities. How might psychoanalytic insights force us to re-evaluate and reconsider the most fundamental assumptions of these diverse and influential arenas of critical and theoretical work?

Deadline: Monday, 19 September, 2016

Word Count: maximum 7000 words

See Submissions for further details.