Buell Hall, Columbia University, 515 West 116th Street, New York
Despite extensive interest over the past few decades in the question of method, the literary field’s informing psychological frameworks are often not subject to much scrutiny, particularly its tendency to privilege psychoanalytic categories drawn from the tradition of Freud, Klein, and Lacan. Taking John Guillory’s Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation as a case in point, she will explore the ways in which the encounter with the psychological unconscious of the field remains largely deferred thirty years later after the publication of that important study. One consequence of this field condition is that the dominant psychological assumptions continue to have an ineluctable connection to, and constraint on, the field’s political imaginary. By shifting our attention to post-Kleinian object relations (Winnicott, in particular) and Axel Honneth’s work on recognition and respect, we might begin to develop a political psychology more attuned to current challenges and more in line with some of the impulses behind the method debates.
Amanda Anderson, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English at Brown University