Valérie Loichot
"After the Deluge: Kara Walker on the Abominable and the Beautiful"
Thursday, January 25 2016, 4:30PM White Hall 112

Interdisciplinary Caribbean scholar and Americanist Valérie Loichot is Professor of French and English and core member of Comparative Literature at Emory University. She is also affiliated with Psychoanalytic Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and African American Studies.  She is the author of Oprah Narratives: The Postplantation Literatures of Faulkner, Glissant, Morrison, and Saint-John Perse (University of Virginia Press, 2007) and The Tropics Bite Back:  Culinary Coups in Caribbean Literature (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), winner of the MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies . She directed and edited the collected volume Entours D'Eduard Glissant (Revue des Sciences humaines; Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2013).

While visual and installation artist Kara Walker published After the Deluge (2007) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, she contends that her book is not simply about New Orleans or waterborne disaster, but that it is also "an attempt to understand the subconscious narratives at work when we talk about such an event." This talk reflects on Walker's spillage of words and images, which she calls "muck," through Kristeva's concept of the abject and in context of the massive abjection produced by the enslavement of humans. Walker's aesthetic muck, Dr. Loichot contends, reinvenets language and beauty precisely where meaning collapses, at the risk of flirting with abomination.

Dr. Valérie Loichot's work on Walker is a section of Water Graves, a book in progress that investigates the lack of funeral rites, a phenomenon she calls unritual, in the Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Unritiual, or privation of ritual, is a state more absolute even than desecration since the latter implies the existence of a previous sacred state or object -- a temple, a grave, a ceremonial. Unritual is the stripping of the sacred in the first place. Her book explores literary and artistic representations of water-immersed bodies of enslaved Africans, Haitian refugees, and victims of Katrina. Above all, it analyzes aesthetic ways of memorializing and desecrated drowned, such as narrative fiction, poetry, mixed-media art, and underwater sculptures. 

Please RSVP to Inna Strizhevsky at istrizh@emory.edu by Monday, January 19.

Kelly Bulkeley 
"Dreams and Religious Healing: Ancient rituals, modern therapies, future technologies"
Thursday, February 18 2016, 4:30 PM Candler School of Theology, RARB 252 

Dream-related practices of healing are found in religious traditions all over the world, and they have deeply influenced the modern psychotherapeutic methods of Freud, Jung, and many others.  This presentation will shed new light on the effectiveness of these practices by describing the latest scientific research on brain-mind functioning during sleep and dreaming.  The discussion will include possible applications of dream database technology in future modes of therapy, in both religious and secular contexts.

Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D., is a Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Architect of the Sleep and Dream Database (SDDb), former President of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and Senior Editor of the APA journal Dreaming, his recent works include Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion (Oxford University Press, in press), Dreaming in the Classroom: Practices, Methods, and Resources in Dream Education (co-authored with Philip King and Bernard Welt) (State University of New York Press, 2011), and Dreaming in the World’s Religions: A Comparative History (New York University Press, 2008).

Event sponsored by the Graduate Division of Religion and the Psychoanalytic Studies Program.

Noëlle McAfee
“Deliberation and the Work of Mourning”
Wednesday, March 23 2016, 4:30PM, White Hall 103

Dr. Noëlle McAfee is Professor of Philosophy and affiliated faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the Psychoanalytic Studies Program at Emory University. She is also a candidate at the Emory University Psychoanalytic Institute. She is the author of Democracy and the Political Unconscious (Columbia 2008); Julia Kristeva (Routledge 2003); Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship (Cornell 2000); and numerous articles and book chapters. During the past decade she has worked on projects supported by the Kettering Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. She received her PhD in philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin in 1998 with a dissertation on democratic agency in critical theory and French feminism. Her co-edited volumes include a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory and an edited volume titled Democratizing Deliberation: A Political Theory Anthology (Kettering 2012). She is also co-director of the Public Philosophy Network and co-editor of the Kettering Review.  She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Democracy Otherwise.

Political deliberation is not just a process of reason giving and consideration, which many political philosophers think it is, but an affective process that any psychoanalyst would recognize. As John Dewey noted, any choice is a forking of the roads, and the roads we take help create who we become. But equally important are the alleyways that haunt those roads and the losses we incur when we go in one direction rather than another. The work of mourning is as key for democratic citizens as it is for analysands. Without that work, politics becomes an enactment of fantasied, unrealistic expectations; demonic projections; and persecutory anxieties. Here work since Freud becomes vitally important in understanding our political situation. Melanie Klein, for example, offers a way of understanding “the depressive position” in which we work through fantasies of splitting and revenge. A politics of working through difficult choices and mis-representations of others in our midst could help allay the paranoid politics that dominates politics today.