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What happens when a Kleinian and Lacanian have a committed, generous, and accessible conversation about the commonalities and differences between their psychoanalytic perspectives? In this special, two-part interview, host Jordan Osserman joins authors Amy Allen, a prominent representative of Frankfurt School critical theory with expertise on Klein, and Mari Ruti, a leading Lacanian critical theorist, to discuss their new book, Critical Theory Between Klein and Lacan: A Dialogue (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019). The format of the book is innovative in its own right: the two thinkers set aside a week to meet in person everyday and record themselves discussing, free-form, a variety of themes pertaining to their research interests, including subjectivity, affect, love, creativity, and politics. They then edited the content of these conversations into this fascinating work, which maintains the format of a dialogue. In this podcast, we try to recapture something of the spirit of the book, allowing Ruti and Allen to explore the ways they see the work of Klein and Lacan intersect and diverge, and how they put these theorists to work in their own fields.

After the first episode, we felt that the conversation was so rich — and there was so much more left to say — that we decided to record another one. Among other topics, this first part explores the process of writing this unique book, how Ruti and Allen came to realise that Lacan’s critique of ego psychology need not be opposed to Klein’s understanding of ego integration, and how both authors’ focus on critical theory relates to the clinic. In part two, we will delve deeper into the knotty areas of the book, including Allen’s understanding of intrapsychic versus intersubjective phenomena in Klein, Ruti’s distinction between circumstantial and constitutive trauma in Lacan, and the challenges involved in balancing psychoanalytic universalism with a Foucauldian commitment to context and contingency.

Jordan Osserman grew up in South Florida and currently calls London home. He received his PhD in gender studies and psychoanalysis from University College London, his MA in psychosocial studies from Birkbeck College, and his BA in womens and gender studies from Dartmouth College. His published work can be found here.

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