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LaConference 2018: Lacan and the Environment

April 6-7, 2018

Western Front, Vancouver, British Columbia

Call for Papers

LaConference is a conference series organized by the Lacan Salon of Vancouver, Canada. Previous iterations include LaConference 2011 (with keynote speaker Dany Nobus) at the Western Front, LaConference 2013 (on “the Symbolic Order in the Twenty-First Century” with keynote speaker Paul Verhaeghe) at the Simon Fraser University-Woodwards campus, LaConference 2015 (on “A Century on the Drive”) at SFU Woodwards, and LaConference 2016 (on “Love”, co-organized with the Affiliated Psychoanalytic Workshop with keynote speakers Anne Dufourmantelle and Veronique Voruz), also at SFU Woodwards. The Lacan Salon meets regularly on alternate Tuesday evenings in room 2205 at SFU Woodwards, on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples.

LaConference 2018 takes as its topic Lacan and the Environment, the latter concept meant in two interlocking ways. On the one hand, the socio-cultural environment to which the child or subject or analysand is asked to adapt. On the other hand, the environment conceived of as our planet’s ecology which, perhaps, we have forced to adapt to us. We welcome the widest possible range of papers that deal with these concepts in a Lacanian/post-Lacanian psychoanalytic manner, from the clinic to politics, from representations to praxis. Proposals are welcome from academics, students, analysts, activists, artists, and community members. Possible topics include:

Does the “primordial discord” that Lacan spoke of in the mirror stage essay mean that we repress this fundamental break between the ego and environment?

What is the environment of the clinic? What is its space and the dynamics or valences of that space?

Could we think of the environment as the unconscious, in the sense of a residue of the Real that thinks and acts?

What are possible vicissitudes of the relation between the subject and the environment when the latter is taken as Other and/or object?

What does a Lacanian approach bring to the hoary questions of nature vs nurture?

What does Lacan’s critique of Ego Psychology offer to a rethinking of the subject’s relation to the environment?

How do climate refugees ask us to think about the subject and questions of abjection and the political?

How do Indigenous politics of the environment challenge, but also demand, our thinking with respect to the aforementioned “primordial discord” between subject and environment?

How does the late Lacan (i.e. the four discourses, (feminine) jouissance, knots and strings, the semblant and the Sinthome) help us to theorize the environment? Do we enjoy the environment rather than adapt to it?

What would a psychoanalysis of climate deniers tell us? Is accepting climate change, for those of us who are not scientific, a matter of belief?

What does the long durée of planetary temporality tell us about the relative importance of the Anthropocene?

Is the ongoing ecological crisis a matter of a “state of exception”? That is, should it be privileged over other political or cultural crises as a Master Signifier?

If, as Slavoj Žižek and Fredric Jameson have argued, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, what kind of fantasy is the end of the world? What do we desire when we imagine an environmental apocalypse?

How do televisual/filmic representations of the environment function in terms of Lacanian film theory? How can we think about how the Planet Earth series, An Inconvenient Truth and others structure the viewing subject?

What would a Lacanian theory of animals look like?

What is the role of cli-fi and other apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction in today’s literary scene?

What is the role of poetry in environmental activism? How, for example, does eco-lyric poetry, from John Clare to the Enpipe Line anthology, construct a reading subject?

What are the environments in and through which Lacanian theory is produced, circulated, and consumed such as the academy (where it frequently generates uneasiness), the clinic, and the various spaces in South America, Vancouver, France, Ireland, and so on.

We are pleased to announce that LaConference 2018 will include a keynote address by Dr. Todd McGowan (University of Vermont), author of many books, including: Only a Joke Can Save Us: A Theory of Comedy (2017), Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets (2016), and The End of Dissatisfaction?: Jacques Lacan and the Emerging Society of Enjoyment (2004).


LaConference 2018: Lacan and the Environment 

All talks & events take place in the Grand Luxe Hall at the Western Front, 303 East 8th Ave., Vancouver

April 6-7, 2018

Western Front, Vancouver, British Columbia

LaConference 2018 is presented by Lacan Salon; organizing committee: Clint Burnham, Paul Kingsbury.  Many thanks to Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of CommunicationArt and Technology ~ Faculty of Environment ~ Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences ~ Department of English ~ Department of Geography for their generous support, and to the Western Frontfor hosting. LaConference 2018 takes place on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. 

The event is free and no registration is required.

FRIDAY, April 6

7 p.m. Opening remarks: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun 

Introduction: Clint Burnham

Roundtable: What does the environment want?

Moderator: Paul Kingsbury

Participants: Todd McGowan, Cindy Zeiher, Matthew Flisfeder, Alessandra Capperdoni, Clint Burnham

Roundtable 7-9 p.m., followed by cash bar


doors open 9:00: coffee & snacks

9:30  – 11:00 a.m.: Theory

chair: Clint Burnham

Paul Kingsbury: The supernatural fort-da of UFOs

Alma Krilic: The formula ‘I would prefer not to’ and Enjoyment in Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street”

Alois Sieben: The Land-guage of Throat Singing

Cindy Zeiher: Reversing Interpassive Environments: Neighbour as Social Gesture and Enemy as Social Duty

11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.: Lack of Knowledge

chair: Hilda Fernández Alvarez

Chelsea Birks: Lovers in a Dangerous Time: A Cinematic Ethics for the Anthropocene

Juan Luis de la Mora: In Defense of the Subject

Oliver Keane: Science or pseudoscience? A Lacanian journey into Sasquatch investigation

Sasha Langford: The Psychotopology of Climate

12:45 p.m. – 2 p.m.: break for lunch

2 – 3:30 p.m.: Eco-Ideal

chair: Alma Krilic

Alessandra Capperdoni: Does the Animal Desire? Or, the Animal Question and the Lacanian Subject

Hilda Fernández Alvarez: Aokigahara Forest: An aesthetic space of the residual

Miguel Rivera: “Some people like…”: Misapprehension and Effacement of Jouissance in the Environment of Capitalism

Christine Evans: Partial Views: Cinematic Fantasies of Ecology 

3:45 – 5:15 p.m.: Apocalypse

chair: Paul Kingsbury

Tamas Nagypal: Man and His World Frozen: The Feminine Topology of the Snowpocalypse in Robert Altman’s Quintet

Calum Matheson: Desiring the End: Environmental Apocalypse and a Sense of the Real

Nathan Gorelick: Psychoanalysis at the End of the World

Matthew Flisfeder: From the Sublime to the Hysterical: Reading the “End of the World” Thesis Against the “General Intellect” 

6 p.m.: Keynote address by Todd McGowan: Self-Destruction and the Natural World

introduced by Clint Burnham