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Lacan and Race is a Course

Lacan and Race

Starts Oct 31, 2020

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$225 Enroll

Full course description

Saturday, October 31st from 1-5 pm (EST)-- Fully Online Workshop

Eligible for 3 CEs for LMHC and Psychologists 

Discounts available for current Boston College students, faculty, and staff, email lynchschoolpce@bc.edu for more information. 

This workshop is taugh in two parts.

Part 1: Racism as enjoyment, as fantasy, and… (white) anxiety | Derek Hook 

We begin the course with a brief overview of the basic tenets of the ‘racism as enjoyment’ thesis in Lacanian theory (racism as involving forms of arousal and gratifying transgression, as premised on the idea that the other’s enjoyments infringe upon my own libidinal treasures). Building on this platform, we develop a series of associated concepts, elaborating how racist enjoyment remains crucially intertwined with law and the superego (hence the idea that racism often operates as a type of ‘moral’ formation.) We then move on to explain how racist enjoyment always necessitates reference to the notion of fantasy (which we discuss both in relation to Lacanian theory and Laplanche and Pontalis’ survey of Freud’s ideas of psychical reality). A further related topic is that of anxiety, especially seeing as anxiety is what emerges when exclusionary or privileged identities (such as ‘whiteness’) are called into question. A Lacanian perspective on anxiety – which seems invariably related to threats to symbolic and imaginary identity – will help us better appreciate what is at stake in the forms of white anxiety (as opposed to ‘white fragility’) which sustain and perpetuate racist social formations.

Part 2: Race and Mythic Enjoyment: Jouissance, from the Ratman to Lacan | Sheldon George

The tripartite structure of the oedipal complex has been central to Freudian understandings of the psychoanalytic subject.  In the early 1950’s, however, Jacques Lacan introduced a revised reading of the structural relation between father, mother and child by presenting death as a fourth term that determines the subject’s mythic relation to the self and others.  By working through a rereading of the case of the Rat Man in his lecture “The Neurotic’s Individual Myth,” Lacan shows how obsessional neurosis reveals deeper layers of myth that may shape subjectivity even across generations.  This workshop will focus on understanding the mythic psychic structures expressed in American race relations.  It will investigate how myths about race position racialized individuals within oedipal relations of Eros and aggression that are fundamentally determined by deep psychic responses to the fourth term applied by Lacan to the oedipal dynamic, the factor of death that defines a fundamental relation to subjectivity and alterity.  These myths define subjective fantasies about the self’s and the other’s relation to jouissance, or libidinal enjoyment.  We will work through this reading of the mythic structure of race in America by first returning to Lacan’s lecture and then advancing toward an investigation of race in fiction by the African American author Ralph Ellison.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Consider what might be most useful – analytically, critically, practically – about approaching racism psychoanalytically as a type of bodily arousal (or, enjoyment) which involves narratives of loss, threat and excess.
  2. Appreciate shortcomings both within everyday explanations of racism (racism as intolerance or ignorance) and within much psychological theorizing on racism (racism as problem of knowledge or outcome of attitudes, cognitive functioning, etc.).
  3. Understand how racism invariably entails narrative elements – which is to say, psychoanalytically, the role of fantasy – and how, as such, we need engage with the topic of anxiety (and white anxiety, more particularly) in challenging the persistence of racism today.

Timeline and Requirements:

The course will take place on October 31st, 2020.  This workshop is instructor-led and is a fully online experience. This will be conducted synchronously online via (Zoom) from 1:00 pm-5:00 pm (EST) with an hour break between parts. 

CE Sponsorship: 

University Counseling Services of Boston College is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. As a co-sponsor of this program, University Counseling Services of Boston College maintains responsibility for this program and its content." Participants will be eligible to receive 1.5 CE units from University Counseling Services of Boston College. 

The Lynch School of Education and Human Development is providing sponsorship for CEUs for Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC). These credits are accepted by the Massachusetts Board of Registration for Licensed Mental Health Counselors (Category I contact hours in Content Area I).

Participants must attend the workshop in full and complete the post event survey to be eligible to receive CEs.

This workshop does not offer CEs for social workers or other clinicians not listed above. 

Fees & Policies:

Tuition includes all instructional materials. Participants receive a certificate of participation.

Payment is due by credit card at registration. Registration closes October 29th. Refunds will be granted only up to the first day of class/program. 

Instructors: