The Centre for the History of European Discourses holds regular mini-conferences in which postgraduate researchers supervised by CHED present an aspect of their work to an audience of fellow postgrads and centre staff and supervisors. For further information about ongoing Postgraduate Mini-Conferences contact Dr Elizabeth Stephens .

The details of the upcoming conference are below.

 

 
CHED Postgraduate Mini Conference, 2.30pm, Friday 6th November 2009.
 
Oedipus Wrecked: Psychosexual regression in McEwan’s The Cement Garden.
Chad Parkhill
 
This paper reads Ian McEwan’s 1978 novel The Cement Garden as a narrative of psychosexual regression. In particular, it examines the patterns of identification between the novel’s male protagonist and his dead parental figures to claim that, for McEwan, the act of incest is the act par excellence of defiance of the Law-of-the-Father. This paper will argue, however, that McEwan’s novel dramatises more recent critiques, such as that of Judith Butler, of the utopianism inherent in the notion of a pre-Oedipal, pre-discursive self. For McEwan, the polymorphous perversity of the pre-Oedipal child cannot be recuperated by individuated, discursive subjects; the protagonist’s attempts to do so are always undermined by his own unconscious identification with the Father. The sexual politics of The Cement Garden are therefore deeply ambiguous: the Law that creates individuated, sexual subjects is neither fully efficacious (as it cannot entirely suppress polymorphous perversity), nor can it be defeated through symbolic acts of regression.
 
 
 
‘Ghosts over Britain’: Ghost Hunting and Cultural Nostalgia between the Wars
Joanna Timms
 
This paper examines the popular practice of ghost hunting in Britain between the First and Second World Wars, and seeks to distinguish ghost hunting from scientific psychical research. As the scholar Owen Davies notes, popular ghost hunters sought to be thrilled by their encounters with ghosts, shunning the empirical assessment of paranormal phenomena undertaken by psychical researchers. In spite of their reputation for frivolity, however, this paper will argue that popular ghost hunters articulated broader socio-cultural concerns through their public-orientated accounts of ghost hunting. The British ghost hunters Elliott O’Donnell, James Wentworth Day and R. Thurston Hopkins engaged with and articulated issues such as suburbanisation, Americanisation and the decline of rural tradition in interwar Britain. The fact that these concerns correlated with those prevalent in Britain between the wars depicts that the scholarly relevance of ghost hunting must extend beyond occult studies into the broader field of socio-cultural history. 
 
 
 
 
Competing concepts of confiding:
The emergence of a new persona in the late 19th Century.
Andrea Josipovic
 
This paper proposes that with all the attention on psychoanalysis at the very end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Century, earlier groundbreaking work within the realms of psychiatry and psychology, as well as pastoral care have been largely neglected and are somewhat lost to scholarly attention, particularly amongst practising professionals. This paper examines and brings to the fore how psychoanalysis was in fact not a complete ‘reinvention of the wheel’, but a mere reaction to earlier scientific research. During the presentation, specific questions will be asked in an attempt to analyse how shifts in society have provoked a void that was increasingly filled by an emerging persona of professional therapist. It is argued that this new persona presented as different, yet akin to a medical doctor on the one hand, and a member of the clergy supporting people with their private matters, on the other.

 

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Postgraduate Mini-Conference October 2005

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