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  • “Works in Progress” Seminar Series

    Psychoanalysis and the Endings of Shakespeare's plays

    Tuesday, March 3, 2015
    8:30 PM

    "Psychoanalysis and the Endings of Shakespeare's plays"
    with Erwin Flaxman, Ph.D.

    “Really, universally, relations stop nowhere, and the exquisite problem of the artist is eternally to draw, by a geometry of his own, the circle in which they shall happily appear to do so.”
    Henry James, Roderick Hudson

    This paper discusses how psychoanalytic explanations of endings, including of the dynamics at work in the termination of a psychoanalysis, can be used to explain the “geometry” of the endings of Shakespeare’s plays on the page and in the theater. Shakespeare’s endings are bound to the laws of dramatic finality and resolution, yet remain variable, provisional, and permeable. Drama, like a psychoanalysis, has its greatest impact in the subjective middle of the experience, in the moments when the largest quantity of unorganized instinct governs the action, a particularly common situation in Shakespearean drama. To understand the endings of Shakespeare’s plays and terminations of a psychoanalysis, we must first invalidate and falsify them, as Freud did for psychoanalysis in “Analysis Terminable and Interminable,” a paper that casts a shadow on any discussion of these endings, closings, or terminations.

    New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute
    247 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
    The Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium


    Erwin Flaxman, Ph.D. is a training and supervising analyst (Fellow) and faculty at the Institute for Training and Research (IPTAR) and adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has been the director of theater and drama at Teachers College, where he taught courses on dramatic theory and contemporary theater. He currently serves as ombudsman at Teachers College. He has also taught English at Temple University and Baruch College. He has published papers in applied psychoanalysis, on a dream of Henry James and on the treason of the Cambridge spies in Psychoanalytic Review. An earlier version of the paper on “Psychoanalysis and the Endings of Shakespeare’s Plays” was presented at the biannual meeting of the British Shakespeare Association at the University of Stirling, Scotland, in July 2014.

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guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •
guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •