Join us for a unique conference that brings light to Pierre Fédida, a rarely translated but crucial figure in the field of psychoanalysis.
This conference is co-organised by Professor Patrick ffrench (Centre for Humanities and Health and Department of French, King's College London) and Dr Nigel Saint (School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at the University of Leeds).
‘The space of a cure corresponds exactly to what can happen between words and things, right there where the object can rediscover its play’ (Pierre Fédida, ‘L’Objeu’).
‘[…] the real innovation of Fédida's book is the invention of all these concepts that are “inter” thereby designating what is “between”. It is neither the “one” nor the “other” but somewhere in the middle, like an intermediary, a messenger, an intermezzo: nor the other stage, the other scene, but in between two sessions, with the time and space proper to subjectivity’ (Gilles Deleuze, ‘The Complaint and the Body’).
‘Pierre Fédida posssessed that great psychoanalytic, philosophical and poetic art of giving accent to the truth to which he devoted his whole life’ (Georges Didi-Huberman, Gestes d’air et de pierre).
The work of Pierre Fédida (1934-2002), a French psychoanalyst of the post-WWII generation, has not, unlike his contemporaries Julia Kristeva, Jean Laplanche, André Green or Didier Anzieu, benefited from extensive translation into English.
In conjunction with an evening event, Situating Pierre Fédida, on the 16th June at the Freud Museum, London, which will introduce Fédida’s work to an anglophone audience, this 1-day symposium, Translating Pierre Fédida, is part of an endeavour to remedy this situation. It will focus in part on the challenges of translating the specific idiom of Fédida’s approach to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. But translating can also be taken in a broader sense, relating to the relations between words, objects, gestures and other corporeal instances in the psychotherapeutic session, to the fascinating parallels and resonances Fédida draws out between psychoanalytic theory, phenomenology, and literary and aesthetic material such as the work of French poet Francis Ponge (in his landmark essay ‘L’Objeu’), or to the ‘conversion’ of psychic conflicts to manifest or evanescent corporeal symptoms, to which Fédida was particularly attentive both in his writing and in his clinical practice.
Translation is also at stake in the negotiations Fédida effects between the French and the British psychoanalytic contexts, particularly the legacies of object-relations theory and its critique (Klein and then Winnicott), on the one hand, and the attention to the role of language brought to bear in the French tradition. Translating Pierre Fédida will thus feature presentations from several experts on Fédida’s work and, it is hoped, catalyse further exploration of his legacies.
10.30 Welcome (tea and coffee will be available)
10.45-11.00 Introduction by Patrick ffrench and Nigel Saint
11.00-11.30 Mareike Wolf-Fédida
11.30-12.00 Monique David-Ménard
12.00-12.30 Anne-Marie Smith-Di Biasio
13.00-14.30 Lunch Break
14.30-15.00 Ana Minozzo
15.00-15.30 François Villa (in French)
15.30-16.00 Steven Jaron
16.30-16.45 Break (tea and coffee will be available)
16.45-17.30 Translating Pierre Fédida: a discussion with Patrick ffrench and Nigel Saint
Lunch is at conference attendees’ own expense. Papers given in French (one is expected at present) will be supported by written translations into English available on the day, and discussions will be supported by live translation from French to English. The event is free, but please do register your attendance in advance via Eventbrite. ‘Translating Pierre Fédida’ is organised in conjunction with an event on the evening of the 16th June at the Freud Museum, London – ‘Situating Pierre Fédida’ (chaired by Professor Dany Nobus, Brunel University), registration and tickets for which can be found via the Museum’s website.
Mareike Wolf-Fédida, ‘Creating the Complete Works of Pierre Fédida’
The talk will trace the various stages of reflection that have led to the creation of the complete works of Pierre Fédida in 12 volumes. It will address questions about the complications and rarity of a complete work. First the collection of material, the classification, the presentation, and the comparison with other existing complete works. This will inform a synthetic account of Pierre Fédida’s career and the evolution of his work. The talk will conclude with a reflection on a life’s work in comparison with that of Arthur Tatossian in psychiatry, whose complete works Mareike Wolf-Fédida has also created with the help of his widow, Jeanne Tatossian.
Monique David-Ménard’s talk will focus on the content of Fédida’s work via a specific focus on the works ‘L’hypocondrie du rêve’ (Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse 1972), L’Absence Gallimard 1978), Le site de l’étranger (PUF, 1995) and Des Bienfaits de la dépression (Odile Jacob 2001).
Anne-Marie Smith-Di-Biasio, ‘Resonating through the Sleep Zone, Language’s Last Hope: Translation and Dream as Critical States of Suspension in Fédida’.
The paper will consider language in Pierre Fédida’s thinking as the site of the strange or the foreign through the prism of a hiatus in normal communication at the core of that thinking which is imposed by the fundamentally incomprehensible and incommunicable nature of the dream and the transference as crises. This state of suspension, itself inseparable from writing about and translating Pierre Fédida, will be examined in the context of the psychoanalytic encounter as the very sleep zone through which language must resonate and dilate. Drawing out the radicality of Fédida’s thinking on transference in this way, where exactly it takes root, will provide a paradigm for thinking through translation. The question of the uncovering of a remainder in the psychoanalytic encounter, in line with the dream’s processing of the day’s residues, will be linked theoretically to questions of memory and belated temporality, with particular reference to Walter Benjamin’s philosophy of history and of translation as the present dreaming the past awake. The presence of the acoustic model in the thinking of both Fédida and Benjamin, whereby the past becomes audible après-coup will be addressed with particular attention to the question of sonority and ethics of tonality in Fédida, whereby as in dream interpretation silent images become pronouncable. Through the Fédidean prism of dream as language’s last hope, we shall extend this model to translation in his thinking with particular reference to questions of language destruction and the animistic quality of transference-dream.
Ana Minozzo, ‘Love and Difference: The ethics of togetherness in Pierre Fédida via Lygia Clark’
This presentation will look into Fédida’s clinical practice via his work with the late Brazilian artist-turned-therapist Lygia Clark. Navigating conceptual elements of Fédida’s writing of psychoanalytic ideas, Clark’s letters and art practice we will weave a proposition of a clinic that operates between necessity and possibility as an impactful legacy of their work. Radical difference, as well as affective togetherness, are complex political challenges encountered in the field of psy that have divided orientations, schools and also framed post-structuralist feminist interventions over the ethics of therapeutic cultures in the last decades. It is in this midst and staying with this trouble that this presentation proposes a reading of Fédida’s early 1970s work with Lygia Clark as a fruitful transdisciplinary site of inspiration for how to negotiate being together without forgetting that we are not the same.
François Villa, ‘Theory’s Stranger as a basis for supervision and controversy between different disciplines’
There is a continuity of approach in Pierre Fédida's theory of supervisory psychoanalysis and the theory on which his conception of controversy in interdisciplinary research is based. In both cases, what is at stake is theory’s stranger. The latter defeats the illusion of the supposed common ground of psychoanalysis. It is from this ‘internal’ interlocutor of each discipline that a controversy can be focused on objects that are at the frontier of, among others, the various life sciences.
Steven Jaron, ‘“Anxiety in/of the Eyes”: from the Punctum Caecum to Psychogenic Blindness’
This presentation begins with a consideration of one of Pierre Fédida’s late essays, “Anxiety in the Eyes” (2000), and his translation of Freud’s term, Augenangst, as a means of problematizing the psychosexuality of the organ of sight and genitalia. It continues with a reflection on hypochondria and hysteria from Freud to Ferenczi. Anxiety in/of the eyes is then developed through a discussion of fragments of a psychoanalytic treatment with an adult patient presenting psychogenic blindness.
Patrick ffrench & Nigel Saint will convene the concluding discussion of the conference, which will focus on the global and local challenges posed by the translation of texts by Pierre Fédida. Specific examples will be introduced from Fédida’s long essay ‘L’Objeu’, in the book L’Absence, and from a second essay ‘Passé anachronique et présent réminiscent’.
Mareike Wolf-Fédida is a Professor of Psychopathology at Université Paris Cité, a psychoanalyst and a member of the Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Art at Caen. She has published substantially in the field of psychopathology, especially on the interrelations of psychoanalysis and phenomenology and on bilingualism and plurilingualism. She is also the editor and publisher of Pierre Fédida’s Œuvres complètes, with 8 of the planned 12 volumes already published (MJW Fédition, 2018-2022).
Monique David-Ménard has a double career as a professor of philosophy and director of research, and as a practising psychoanalyst. In the former capacity she is Professor Emerita at the University Paris-Diderot and former director of the Centre d’études du vivant (2005-2011), where she introduced the ‘Gender and Sexuality’ programme. She is currently an Associate Member of ICI-Berlin (International Center for Inquiry) and a member of the International Network of Women Philosophers at UNESCO. As a practising psychoanalyst in Paris she is currently an Associate member of the Société de Psychanalyse Freudienne, and was co-founder of the ISPP/SIPP (International Society for Philosophy and Psychoanalysis). She is the author of: L’Hystérique entre Freud et Lacan, Corps et langage en psychanalyse (Editions Universitaires, 1983), translated by Catherine Porter as Hysteria from Freud to Lacan, (Cornell University Press, 1989); La Folie dans la raison pure. Kant lecteur de Swedenborg (Vrin, 1990); Les Constructions de l’universel (PUF, 1997; Tout le plaisir est pour moi (Hachette-Littératures, 2000); Deleuze et la psychanalyse. l’Altercation (PUF, 2005); Les Constructions de l’universel (Edition augmentée, PUF/Quadrige, 2009); Eloge des hasards dans la vie sexuelle (Hermann, 2011); Corps et langage en psychanalyse (Campagne Première, 2014); La Vie sociale des choses : l’animisme et les objets (Editions Le Bord de l’eau, 2020).
Steven Jaron is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst working at the 15-20 National Vision Hospital and in private practice in Paris. Before studying clinical psychology at the University of Paris 7 and psychoanalysis at the Psychoanalytic Society for Research and Training (SPRF), he obtained a Phd in French and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. He is the author of Edmond Jabès: The Hazard of Exile (Legenda, 2003) and, most recently, Christopher Bollas: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge, 2022).
François Villa is Professor of psychopathology at the University of Paris and co-founder of the Institut La Personne En Médecine (ILPEM, http://lapersonneenmedecine.uspc.fr/). His research focuses on internal limits of psychoanalysis and questions the impact of somatic illnesses on the psyche and the processes of individuation in the work of culture. He collaborates in ‘‘Future Investments’ projects such as the multidisciplinary LabEx Who Am I? Determinants of Identity: from the molecule to the individual. He is the author of about a hundred contributions in international and national journals and in collective works. He has published La Puissance du vieillir (PUF, 2010) and Le caractère dans la pensée freudienne (PUF, 2009).
Anne-Marie Smith-Di Biasio teaches Modernist literature and Translation Studies at the Catholic University of Paris & is adjunct Associate Professor at Paris College of Art and the Centre Européen de Traduction Littéraire (Bruxelles). She completed her doctorate in comparative literature and psychoanalysis under the supervision of Malcolm Bowie at London University in 1987 and a dissertation on psychoanalytic listening supervised by Pierre Fédida at the university of Paris 7 in 1998. Her research explores the question of memory at the interface of Literature and Psychoanalysis, Writing and Translation, in the context of European Modernisms. Her latest monograph Le Palimpseste mémoriel; entendre la mémoire au fil des Modernismes is forthcoming with Sorbonne University Press in 2023. She is also the author of Virginia Woolf, la hantise de l’écriture (Indigo & Côté-femmes 2010) and of Julia Kristeva, Speaking the Unspeakable (Pluto Press, 1988). She has published regularly in Paragraph, and in France in the journals Adolescence, Carnet/PSY, Psychiatrie française &, Confrontations psychiatriques, and is a translator of poetry (La revue des Archers), literature (Correspondence Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, forthcoming Éditions de la Table Ronde) and psychoanalysis (IJP and Journal of the EPF).
Ana Carolina Minozzo is a psychoanalyst and researcher based in London, UK. She holds a PhD in Psychosocial Studies from Birkbeck, University of London as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychoanalytic Psychology and Psychosocial Studies from the same university. Since 2013, she teaches Cultural and Theoretical Studies at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London and her research crosses the fields of medical humanities, feminist praxis, continental philosophy and psychoanalysis. She practises psychoanalysis both in private practice and in the community, with a focus on the clinic of psychoses, issues around migration and gender.
Patrick ffrench is Professor of French and co-director of the Centre for Humanities and Health at King’s College London. His work falls broadly into the field of 20th-century French literature and thought. He is the author of The Time of Theory: A History of Tel Quel (OUP, 1996), The Cut: reading Bataille’s Histoire de l’Œil (OUP, 2000), After Bataille: Sacrifice, Exposure, Community (Legenda, 2007). More recently his work has revolved around engagements with the cinema or with the cinematographic imaginary in literature and critical theory; this orientation has resulted in the books Thinking Cinema with Proust (Legenda, 2018) and Roland Barthes and Film: Myth, Eroticism, Poetics (Bloomsbury, 2019). His current research is concerned with theories of care and transitional space, in the interfaces between psychoanalytic theory, literature and medical humanities.
Nigel Saint is Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Leeds. He completed a doctorate at UCL on Marguerite Yourcenar under the supervision of Annette Lavers (Marguerite Yourcenar: Reading the Visual, Legenda/MHRA, 2000).. He has written on Georges Perec, Louis Marin, Georges Didi-Huberman and Pascal Convert. He co-edited Modern French Visual Theory: A Critical Reader (MUP, 2013) with Andy Stafford and a special issue of Early Modern French Studies on Louis Marin (2016) with Alain Cantillon. He is working on a study of Didi-Huberman. His essay on Fédida, ‘Dream Images, Psychoanalysis and Atrocity: Pierre Fédida and Georges Didi-Huberman’, will appear in Dreams and Atrocity: The Oneiric in Representations of Trauma, ed. E-R. Baker and D. Otosaka (Manchester University Press, 2022).