Liebert Award Lecture • On Dangerous Ground: Freud’s Visual Cultures of the Unconscious

April 2, 2019 8pm

Diane O’Donoghue • Presenter

Freud’s collection of “antiquities” is well known, but is most commonly imagined as shown in the famous photographs, taken in May 1938, by Edmund Engelman. But this was the collection in literally its last moments in Vienna, just prior to Freud’s forced exile to London. As the over 2000 objects that filled his working spaces, we know this assemblage at its end far better than its start. Based on a chapter in Professor O’Donoghue’s recently published book on the role of art and archaeology in the shaping of Freud’s theories of the unconscious, this presentation will investigate when, and perhaps why, this collection began, relating it to a moment of tumult in Freud’s work – in the autumn of 1897 – when fragments of history took a highly consequential turn for him, and for the construction of psychoanalysis to follow.

Learning Objectives:

1. Discuss the role of material objects, particularly those of the distant past, on Freud’s emerging theories of an unconscious.

2. Assess the impact of external phenomena, such objects and archaeological sites, on the early language of psychoanalysis.

3. Critique the ideas of value, worth, and selectivity in Freud’s early shaping of psychical functioning.