Philadelphia Lacan Study Group

Saint Agatha, by Tiepolo

Saint Agatha, by Tiepolo

The Ecstacy of St. Teresa, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

The Ecstacy of St. Teresa, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Oedipus

Oedipus explains the riddle of the Sphinx, by J. A. D. Ingres

Detail of Saint Lucy, by del Cossa

Detail of Saint Lucy, by del Cossa

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 (6 - 8 pm)

On Being Jewish by Sigmund Freud

Betty Fuks, Eliza Slavet, Liliane Weissberg, and Patricia Gherovici in conversation.

How can Freud help us understand the difference between Jewishness and being Jewish? Can psychoanalysis have original things to say about what makes a person Jewish, and is this identical with Judaism? Was Freud betraying his own people when he asserted that Moses was Egyptian? What does psychoanalysis have to say about “racial fever,” i.e. the unquenchable desire and drive to discover, recount and (sometimes even) invent ancestral memories that might somehow explain the present? Is there any way to think about race without reducing it to racism or to physical differences? The evening conversation at Slought Foundation will take questions such as these as a starting point. The conversation pairs a cultural critic with a psychoanalyst, both of whom have recently authored books on Freud and Jewishness. Moving beyond biographical debates about how Freud felt about Judaism, the conversation will explore his redefinition of Jewishness: what it is, how it is transmitted, and how it has survived. By engaging with the Freudian text, both Fuks and Slavet offer insightful accounts of how Freud invented a unique understanding of Jewishness.

Betty B. Fuks is a psychoanalyst practicing in Brazil. She teaches at the Post-Graduate Program of the Universidade Veiga de Almeida and at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica both in Rio de Janeiro. Her books include Freud e a Cultura (Jorge Zahar, 2003), Freud E A Judeidade : A Vocação Do Exilio (Jorge Zahar, 2008), and Freud and the Invention of Jewishness (Agincourt Press, 2008).

Eliza Slavet has a PhD in Literature from UC San Diego, an MM in Oboe Performance from the Yale School of Music. She has organized several panels, among which the May 2006 New York Public Library discussion of “Freud’s Foreskin: A Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Most Suggestive Circumcision in History.” She has taught at Parsons, the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, NYU, Queens College, CUNY, and UC San Diego. She is the author of Racial Fever: Freud and the Jewish Question (Fordham University Press, 2009).

Liliane Weissberg is Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences and Professor of German and Comparative Literature. Her most recent books are a critical edition of Hannah Arendt’s Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess (1997), Cultural Memory and the Construction of Identity (with Dan Ben-Amos, 1999), and Romancing the Shadow: Poe and Race (with J. Gerald Kennedy, 2001).

Patricia Gherovici is a psychoanalyst practicing in Philadephia and New York. She is the author of The Puerto Rican Syndrome (Other Press, 2003) and Please Select Your Gender: From the Invention of Hysteria to the Democratizing of Transgenderism (Routledge, forthcoming).

Slought Foundation, 4017 Walnut St, Philadelphia. Free to the public. Reservation not required.