The talk will examine how ‘fixation’ is associated with some of the most inventive and enigmatic moments in Freud’s accounts of the body, sexuality, and time. In one of Freud’s earliest clinical publications from the late 1880s, the term ‘fixation’ marks the moment where psychoanalysis veers off from psychiatry. Confronted with the paradoxical phenomenon of a woman whose speech is subjected to the mysterious force of what he calls ‘counter-will’, Freud begins to lay down the basic building blocks out of which he will go on to construct the architecture of psychic organization. When this early case is re-read in light of some of Freud’s later concerns, it reveals that this originary scene of ‘fixation’ opens up the possibility of discerning a powerful counter-current to some of Freud’s most heteronormative views about gender and sexuality and provides the basis for a thinking about how fixation obliges Freud to grapple with the ways that the queer temporal structures associated with female sexuality challenge a metapsychology grounded in the Oedipal complex.
Elissa Marder is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Emory University where she is formally affiliated with the Departments of Philosophy and Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the Emory Psychoanalytic Studies Program. She holds honorary appointments at the London Graduate School and the European Graduate School. Her research includes 19th and 20th century French literature, philosophy, literary theory, psychoanalysis, film, photography, and feminist theory. Situated at the intersection of psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and feminism, her work engages with texts and questions that challenge traditional conceptions of temporality, birth, technology, sexual difference, and the limits of the human. She is the author of numerous books, including The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Psychoanalysis, Photography, Deconstruction (2012) and Dead Time: Temporal Disorders in the Wake of Modernity (Baudelaire & Flaubert) (2001).