Department Chair

Dr. Ralph L. Wahlstrom

Date of Award


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Campus-Only Access

Degree Name

English, M.A.


English Department


Dr. David N. Ben-Merre

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First Reader

Dr. David N. Ben-Merre

Second Reader

Dr. Macy P. Todd


In 1963, having been ousted from the International Psychoanalytic Association, the public intellectual Jacques Lacan faced a crucial moment in his career. Set to deliver a yearly seminar on his own concept, the Name(s)-of-the-Father, Lacan reads his institutional expulsion as a defining moment for psychoanalysis itself. Consequently, only a single class is held on the subject, and Lacan vows to never recommence the course. “I will never take up this theme again,” he insists, “seeing there the sign that this seal would not know how to be lifted again for psychoanalysis.” One could say the interruption presents a “lacuna” in Lacan’s work which he is subsequently “laconic” about.

But Lacan’s reports of his dispute with the Association are fraught with contradictions. One moment the incident is a typical power struggle among colleagues; the next, Lacan renders it an infernal drama over Sigmund Freud’s legacy. By reading Lacan’s pronouncements about his fateful seminar and the Names-of-the-Father to the letter, it becomes apparent there is more to the story than meets the eye, with the theatrical “excommunication” perhaps serving as the (absent) center of his discourse and the “Lacanian orientation” as a whole….

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