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Where there is no path, only the travelling: psychoanalytic film theory after Deleuze

Lapsley, Robert (2018) Where there is no path, only the travelling: psychoanalytic film theory after Deleuze. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The argument of this thesis is twofold. First that psychoanalysis, more specifically approaches inspired by the teaching of Jacques Lacan, can still be useful in thinking encounters with art and, in particular cinema. At the same time, it is acknowledged that psychoanalysis, in its existing forms has its limitations and it is claimed -this is the second argument – that if psychoanalysis is to be worthy of the event of art it should draw on sources beyond the psychoanalytic tradition, in this case, the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. The thesis falls into two parts. The first considers what psychoanalysis can still contribute. Chapter one assays existing psychoanalytic approaches to cinema, argues that fewer of those theories are outmoded than is currently assumed and seeks to retrieve what is of continuing value. Chapter two is the longest chapter and the heart of the thesis. In support of the contention that the work of Freud and Lacan is still of moment, it explores a series of new psychoanalytic approaches to film and literature which it is claimed do more justice to the event of art. The second part of the thesis considers how Lacan’s teaching could be combined with the philosophy of Deleuze to develop these new approaches. Chapter three outlines the relevant aspects of Deleuze’s philosophy to establish a framework for the subsequent discussion. Chapter four examines the degree of convergence between the two thinkers and proposes a division of labour: psychoanalysis for artworks which transform subjectivity and Deleuzean thought for those which depart it. Chapter five considers how Deleuze’s cinema books point up the absence of any comparable creativity in psychoanalysis and what psychoanalytic film theory could learn from Deleuze’s achievement.

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