Toward Transfeminist Theories of Embodiment: (Re)writing the Lacanian SinthĂ´me

Lecture in English by Chris Coffman



Katrin Lasthofer
(Gender Research Office of the University of Vienna)
Daniela Finzi
(Research director of the Sigmund Freud Museum)

Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 6:30 pm

Main Building of the University of Vienna, Hörsaal 31 (Stiege IX, 1. Stock), Universitätsring 1, 1010 Vienna

(Click here for the floor plan)
Free admission, please register below

Lacanian psychoanalytic theorists have only recently begun to understand transgender embodiments in affirmative rather than pathologizing ways. The concept of the sinthôme has been crucial to this change in approach. This lecture will trace the sinthôme from its initial appearance in the writings of Jacques Lacan through its feminist reinflection by visual artist Bracha Ettinger and its recent reworkings by trans-affirmative psychoanalysts Sheila Cavanagh, Patricia Gherovici, and Oren Gozlan. This work has been vitally important in understanding transsexuals’ requests to transition as healthy and life-affirming rather than as symptoms of psychosis, as Catherine Millot notoriously claims.

Coffman will build on this line of trans-affirmative psychoanalytic thinking to argue that the sinthĂ´me can also be adapted to theorize forms of transgender embodiment that are unique to non-binary and genderqueer people. These subjective experiences of embodiment extend beyond the body’s material contours. Supported by structures of sexual difference that need not be anchored by the Lacanian phallus, they offer alternatives to psychoanalytic feminisms predicated on the cisgender female body. (Chris Coffman, 2019)
Chris Coffman is Professor of English and affiliated with the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her research uses psychoanalytic, feminist, and queer theories to analyze twentieth and twenty-first century literature, visual art, and film from Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States. Her first monograph, Insane Passions: Lesbianism and Psychosis in Literature and Film, appeared in December 2006 from Wesleyan University Press; her second, Gertrude Stein's Transmasculinity, was published in June 2018 by Edinburgh University Press. She has also written articles on psychoanalytic queer and trans theory, queer film, Franz Kafka's The Trial, James Joyce's Ulysses,Monique Truong's The Book of Salt, and Virginia Woolf's Orlando. A past participant in a NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) seminar on “Modernist Paris,” she is currently at work on new articles on Woolf’s The Waves and Orlando as well as on her Fulbright-Freud Research Project called Queer Traversals. While in Austria, Professor Coffman is also teaching a course on “Queer Theories” for the Gender Studies MA Program at the University of Vienna.
We may also spotlight the book presentation postcolonial-queer. Erkundungen in Literatur und Theorie (in German, Turia + Kant 2019) by Anna Babka, which follows Chris Coffman's lecture at 7:30 pm in the German Studies Library at the Main University of Vienna.


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