Compromise Formations: Current Directions in Psychoanalytic Criticism

Compromise Formations: Current Directions in Psychoanalytic Criticism

Compromise Formations: Current Directions in Psychoanalytic Criticism

Compromise Formations: Current Directions in Psychoanalytic Criticism

Excerpt

It is a pleasure to introduce this volume of selected papers from the Fourth International Conference on Literature and Psychology (August 7-9, 1987) hosted at Kent State University, as it commemorates an important gathering of psychoanalytic thinkers from around the world and attempts to capture some of the tremendous interest and energy engendered by the conference. It is doubly gratifying to present this collection because it is the first volume to spring from the varied conferences being hosted by the Center for Literature and Psychoanalysis in the Department of English at Kent State, under the generous support of an Academic Challenge Grant from the State of Ohio. With its unique integration of training in psychoanalytic practice with on-going research in literary criticism and critical theory, the center's program unfolds, in its design and implementation, the growing rapprochement between psychoanalysis and the university.

In drawing these papers together, I have not attempted, however, to enforce a synthesis within a field which takes as its operating premise the critic's, and the clinician's, role as analyst. Indeed, if there is one thing psychoanalysis has taught us, it is that our attempts at unifying the productions of the human mind often disguise strategies of control. What this collection achieves, at best, is a "compromise formation." I use the phrase to invoke its origins in Freudian symptomatology because it strikes me that the psychoanalytic notion of the neurotic symptom as a compromise which expresses drive and defense simultaneously provides a felicitous formulation of the critical enterprise.

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