Ideology & Fantasy: Psychoanalytic Interpretation of Culture

Richard A. Koenigsberg, Library of Social Science
November 08, 2017; 7 PM EST
About Richard

Richard Koenigsberg received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research and formerly taught at the New School. For the past 40 years, Dr. Koenigsberg has been writing and lecturing on the psychological sources of war and genocide. He is the author of four books, numerous papers and articles, and has lectured extensively throughout the United States (from Library of Social Science).

Full Masterclass: NOVEMBER, 2017

Ideology & Fantasy: Psychoanalytic Interpretation of Culture

In this MASTERCLASS, I’ll present a psychoanalytic theory of culture, showing how ideologies allow unconscious desires and fantasies to make their way into the “external” world.

In Life Against Death: the Psychoanalytic Meaning of History (1959), Norman O. Brown reshapes psychoanalysis into a “wider general theory of human nature, culture and history,” to be appropriated by the consciousness of mankind as a “new stage in the historical process of man’s coming to know himself.” The unconscious can become conscious, Brown says, through “projection into the external world.”

In Sublime Object of Ideology (1989), Mapping Ideology (2012)—and other books and articles—Slavoj Žižek states that ideology is not a dream-like illusion that we build to “escape insupportable reality,” rather is a “fantasy-construction which serves as a support for our reality itself.” Ideology  acts upon us from the outside, but exerts its hold because it resonates with unconscious desires and fantasies.

In Hitler’s Ideology (1975), The Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution and Nationalism (2011)—and other books and papers—I theorizes that ideologies exist as a modus operandi for the expression of fantasies shared by members of a population. Ideologies—like “funnels”—draw forth energy bound to unconscious fantasies—making this energy available for reality-oriented action.

What does it mean to understand reality as a dream that many people are having at once? Focusing on  Fascism and anti-Semitism, this MASTERCLASS explores how ideologies—as shared fantasies—structure our relationship with reality.

Norman Brown

Slavoj Žižek

Books by Richard

Žižek & Literature

Russell Sbriglia, Seton Hall University
Full Masterclass: August, 2017
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature but were Afraid to Ask Žižek

Challenging the widely-held assumption that Slavoj Žižek's work is far more germane to film and cultural studies than to literary studies, this volume demonstrates the importance of Žižek to literary criticism and theory. The contributors show how Žižek's practice of reading theory and literature through one another allows him to critique, complicate, and advance the understanding of Lacanian psychoanalysis and German Idealism, thereby urging a rethinking of historicity and universality. His methodology has implications for analyzing literature across historical periods, nationalities, and genres and can enrich theoretical frameworks ranging from aesthetics, semiotics, and psychoanalysis to feminism, historicism, postcolonialism, and ecocriticism.


The contributors also offer Žižekian interpretations of a wide variety of texts, including Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Samuel Beckett's Not I, and William Burroughs's Nova Trilogy. The collection includes an essay by Žižek on subjectivity in Shakespeare and Beckett. Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek affirms Žižek's value to literary studies while offering a rigorous model of Žižekian criticism.

Other Titles
Subject Lessons: Hegel, Lacan, and the Future of Materialism. Sbriglia & Žizek (Eds.). Forthcoming.
The Night of the World: American Romanticism and the Materiality of Transcendence. Under contract with Northwestern University Press.
"Renovating the Gothic: Poe and Lippard." The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the American Renaissance. Ed. Christopher N. Phillips. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Forthcoming.
Russell Sbriglia | Seton Hall University
About Russell

I study American literature of the long nineteenth century (1776-1914), focusing in particular on the philosophical and political/ideological roots of the literature of the early national and antebellum periods. I am the author of the forthcoming book The Night of the World: American Romanticism and the Materiality of Transcendence, which looks at how American Romantics like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Margaret Fuller, and Walt Whitman engaged German Idealist thought in order to articulate the contours of a philosophy I call "transcendental materialism"—a philosophy according to which the transcendental is generated out of the material (rather than philosophy's typical positing of the vice versa). I am also the editor of the book Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek, a collection of essays on Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek and literary criticism and theory (featuring a chapter by Žižek).

I am currently at work on a couple of projects. The first, Subject Lessons: Hegel, Lacan, and the Future of Materialism, is a collection of essays, coedited with Žižek, on psychoanalytic and idealist approaches (and responses) to contemporary materialism(s). The second is a pair of essays on the American Renaissance: one on Poe, George Lippard, and the gothic; the other on the intersectionality of race and class in Frank J. Webb's The Garies and Their Friends (from Seton Hall Website bio).

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