Philosophy, Psychoanalysis and Gender

Day course with Keith Barrett BA PhD

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3 September, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

£48 - £65

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Philosophy, Psychoanalysis and Gender - Gerda Wegener, Queen of Hearts (Lili), 1928. Photo Morten Porsthumb

From Simone de Beauvoir to Judith Butler.

Please note: this day course was due to take place on 18 April 2020 and has been rescheduled for 3 September 2020.

There has always been a widespread hope that psychoanalysis would be a source of progressive new thinking on the nature of sexual difference and on the problems of sexuality generally. Yet, historically, the record of psychoanalysis in these areas has left a great deal to be desired, and many have criticized the theories that have been forthcoming – from leading figures such as Freud and Lacan – as normative and patriarchal, demeaning towards women, and derogatory towards non-heterosexuals and transgender people. But there are signs at last that this situation may be beginning to change – due to new work in philosophy and a new direction of thinking on sexuality and gender that has emerged in psychoanalysis in the last ten years.

1st Session: We will review Freud’s most important writings on sexuality and gender and engage with the criticism his ideas provoked, both from within psychoanalysis and beyond. We will contrast Freud’s views with the very different psychoanalytic thinking of Karen Horney, Melanie Klein and Nancy Chodorow – drawing out the social and cultural implications of their arguments.

2nd Session: We will study Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophical analysis of the relationship between the sexes in ‘The Second Sex’, and note her evaluation of Freud and psychoanalysis. We will then examine the radical philosophy of sexual difference developed by Luce Irigaray, engaging with her critique of Freud and Lacan, and exploring her reconceptualization of the foundations of Western thought.

3rd Session: Continuing with the critique of Freud and Lacan, we will explore Julia Kristeva’s brilliant post-Lacanian theorizing in which the relationship between the sexes is bought into alignment with the distinction between the ‘semiotic’ and the ‘symbolic’. We will then look at Judith Butler’s rejection of Lacan – and critique of Kristeva – and her radical new approach to the whole question of human sexuality, bringing her ideas into dialogue with the new thinking on sexuality and gender that has begun to emerge recently from within from psychoanalysis itself.

Keith Barrett BA PhD – having received his PhD from the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London, Dr Barrett specialises in both philosophy and psychoanalysis and has taught at several leading institutions, including Imperial College and Birkbeck College.


Unheard Voices

Our ‘Unheard Voices‘ events season aims to illuminate the life and work of women whose stories have been stifled by history.

The season spans two major exhibitions at the Freud Museum: ‘Ida Applebroog: Mercy Hospital’ (29 February – 7 July 2020) and ‘Muriel Gardiner’ (June – October 2020), both celebrated for challenging the structures of society and pushing boundaries in the name of activism.


3 September
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
£48 - £65
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Freud Museum London
20 Maresfield Gardens
London, NW3 5SX United Kingdom
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020 7435 2002

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