The Freud Museum

Events Archive

5 November 2012 - 3 December 2012
SOLD OUT - 6.30- 8.30pm

Psychoanalysis, Popular Culture and the Media

An evening course organized by Media and the Inner World

This course uses psychoanalytic ideas to explore the emotional and therapeutic experiences of popular culture and the media. It takes as its starting point the idea that we live in a therapeutic society where the media provide potential spaces through which to experience different emotions. The sessions will discuss various themes in popular culture and media, as for example, emotive representations of motherhood in film and the flirtatious mechanisms of ‘spin’ in political media culture. A key task of these discussions will be to explore the emotional work involved when engaging with popular culture and how these emotions are symbolised and expressed at personal, social and cultural levels of experience.

The programme has been devised as a course that enables progression from one week to the next, although it is also possible to attend individual sessions on a stand-alone basis. Booking is essential as numbers are limited. Suggested readings are intended as supplementary and will be made available in advance of each session.

Format: Each session will run for 2 hours and be facilitated by Dr Candida Yates (University of East London) and Dr Caroline Bainbridge (University of Roehampton).

1. Monday, 5th November

Therapy Culture: The Emotional Work of Popular Culture and the Media

This first session will explore the idea that we are living in a mediatised age where emotions are foregrounded at every turn. What does it mean to live in a therapy culture and how does this create new therapeutic ways of representing and engaging with popular culture and the media?

2. Monday, 12th November

In Treatment: Television and Psychotherapy

Much has been written about the psychoanalysis of cinema, yet less has been said about television, fantasy and the unconscious. How might we use psychoanalytic ideas to think about our engagement with television, especially when applied to TV representations of psychotherapy? The discussion will use the acclaimed HBO TV series In Treatment as the focus for discussion.

3. Monday, 19th November

Spinning the Unconscious: Psychoanalysis and the Fantasies of Political Culture

This session discusses the relationships between politics, media and celebrity culture. The discussion will examine the emotions and fantasies that get stirred up in relation to the processes of ‘spin’, politics and popular culture. The session will explore the seductions of political performance alongside the desire of politicians to woo audiences by flirting to the camera.

4. Monday, 26th November

Mamma Mia! Music and Motherhood at the Movies

The film Mamma Mia! has been a phenomenal box-office success and has become a cult movie for women in particular. This session will use psychoanalytic ideas to explore the exuberant, excessive pleasures of this film and its links to fantasies of the mother, and a reparative desire to overcome the cultural and psychological losses of femininity.

5. Monday, 3rd December

The Lament for the lost Father in Popular Culture.

Following the UK riots in 2011 there was much talk of a ‘moral collapse of society ’ by UK politicians, with Prime Minister David Cameron citing ‘children without fathers’ as their key cause. As he argued in a speech shortly afterwards: ‘I don’t doubt that many of the rioters out last week have no father at home’. The lament for the lost father is one that is widely expressed in popular culture, and finds expression in films, TV, political culture and the press. The session will draw on psychoanalytic ideas to explore the fantasies that lie behind the model of the containing strong father and will apply these ideas to a range of examples taken from popular culture.


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