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University of Oxford Faculty of English

Poetry and Psychoanalysis Conference

30 June 2012 - 1 July 2012

Poetry & Psychoanalysis
30 June – 1 July 2012, Oxford University, UK
Keynote speaker: Adam Phillips

Conference Website:

Call for papers: deadline extended to 20 January 2012


Just as psychoanalysts have mined poetry for examples and case studies, the insights and the problems of psychoanalysis have been a rich source of inspiration for twentieth and twenty-first century poets. Psychoanalytic readings of poetry from Romanticism to the present have moved beyond symbol-hunting and biographical decoding: recent scholarship has explored a wide range of psychoanalytically-informed reading practices and models of subjectivity. In what ways do these two discourses continue to speak to one another? What preoccupations do they share? What frictions result from their conversation?

-- In what ways can psychoanalysis inform discussions about the lyric “I”?

-- How well suited is psychoanalysis – a discourse associated with depth – to analysing the surface play of poetics?

-- How do recent feminist and queer perspectives converge with psychoanalytic readings of poetry?

-- To what extent can accounts of the relation between the psychoanalytic and the political address questions of poetry’s relation to history?

-- How do psychoanalytic paradigms of repetition speak to the musical and formal repetitions of verse?

-- What do poetry’s generic characteristics – and poetry criticism’s distinctive preoccupations – offer to the broader intersection of psychoanalysis and literature? What might they suggest about that intersection’s limits?

We welcome papers from scholars working with all psychoanalytic paradigms (Freudian, Lacanian, Object Relations, and others) and thinkers (Freud, Lacan, Winnicott, Klein, Bion, Bollas, Kristeva, Benjamin, etc.) in relation to poetry. Topics might include: body and speech; apostrophe, address, dialogue; confession; private and public; language and affect; repetition, temporality, and lyric time; trauma and mourning; play and creativity. 

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a one-to-three-sentence biographical statement by 20 January, 2012, to Reena Sastri ( and Julie Taylor (