Projections: Cinema and Hysteria

Three week evening course with Mary Wild

Three week evening course with Mary Wild

Session 1: Seduction – erotica/romance
Basic Instinct, Bitter Moon, Lola Montes, The Seven Year Itch, Belle De Jour, Talk To Her

“What does it mean to be a woman?” “What does a woman want?” An exploration of female desire provides dynamically elusive answers to these eternal questions. Originating in ancient Greek notions of the ‘wandering womb’, hysteria was Sigmund Freud’s ‘splendid child’, defined in his landmark Dora case study. The hysteric’s body is a theatre where irrepressible ghosts of past trauma are disguised in blindness, deafness, seizures and convulsions – she unconsciously shape-shifts into a medium of warped communication, her symptoms do all the talking for her. At the core of hysteria is a twisted fascination with beauty, so closely bound up with femininity that it runs the risk of replacing it. Through her identification with the male gaze, the hysteric becomes a tragic seductress, desiring the desire of the other. Exaggerated womanliness is the theme of this ‘masquerade’: the ultimate woman might be an imaginary one, a metaphysical alien-goddess, dreamed up by the male animal. “The woman does not exist,” so said Lacan, and pandemonium ensued. But becoming a woman implies extraordinary transformation, at the very least.

Hysteria has not disappeared from modern Western world; instead our culture manifests a hidden hysteria but does not recognise it. Projections: Cinema and Hysteria is a three-part course by Mary Wild examining the central role of hysteria within different film genres (e.g., erotica/romance, horror/melodrama, fantasy/sci-fi). The mystery of femininity will be investigated psychoanalytically via the unconscious connection between the body and language. So rather than the wandering womb, it is in fact the exiled signifier that roams, creeping, searching for a mode of expression among possessed images on the cinema screen.

‘Projections’ is psychoanalysis for film interpretation. ‘Projections’ empowers film spectators to express subjective associations they consider to be meaningful. Expertise in psychoanalytic theory is not necessary – the only prerequisite is the desire to enter and inhabit the imaginary world of film, which is itself a psychoanalytic act.

Mary Wild, a Freudian cinephile from Montreal, is the creator of ‘Projections.’

Session 2: Demons – hysteria in horror/melodrama
The Entity, Sunset Blvd, Black Narcissus, Possession, Teeth, The Piano Teacher

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