Theory, Rhetoric, Aesthetics

Sex, Society, and Other Relations that do not exist

Jacques Lacan’s notorious pronouncement “il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel” (there is no sexual relation) fundamentally measures the gap between the real and relation, between primordial antagonism and imaginary or symbolic suture.  As the discourse of sexual difference, psychoanalysis formidably punctuates ‘the political’ as neither sphere nor substance, but as a site or stuff of antagonism or void, underscoring that every social formation, in installing provisional bonds across this void, is sutured by libido.  Probing the possible parallels in the non-existence of the sexual relation, the social relation, and the Other, this seminar explores the trans-individual status of the psychoanalytic subject, the distinctively psychoanalytic notion of law, and diverse contemporary approaches to ideology and enjoyment. 



29 Aug

The Split $ubject                             

Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Chapters 2, 6

Freud, “Instincts and their Vicissitudes”


“The Unconscious”



5 Sep

The $ubject as / of Language         

Lacan, “The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious” Ecrits 412-444

Seminar 11: Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, Chapters 1-5

Bruce Fink, The Lacanian Subject, 35-48

Lorenzo Chiesa, Subjectivity and Otherness Chapter 2

12 Sep

The $ubject of Drive           

Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Lacan, Seminar 11, Chapters 10-15
Joan Copjec, Imagine There’s No Woman Chapter 1

Slavoj Zizek, The Indivisible Remainder 27-32

The Ticklish Subject 290-306

19 Sep

The Subversion of the $ubject       

Lacan, “The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire”
Ecrits 671-702

Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, Chapters 3-6

Tarrying with the Negative, Chapters 1-2

Adrian Johnston, Zizek’s Ontology, 1-66

26 Sep

There Is No Sexual Relation         

Suzanne Barnard, Introduction to Reading Seminar 20

Lacan, Seminar 20: On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge, Chapters


3 Oct

Jouissance Does Not Exist             

Fink, The Lacanian Subject, 98-128

“Knowledge and Jouissance”

Zizek, Less than Nothing Chapter 11

Johnston, “The Unbearable Burden of Libidinal Liberation”

“The Critique of Pure Enjoyment”

10 Oct

The Real, or, Signifying Nothing             

Lacan, Seminar 3: The Psychoses, Chapters 14-15

Tom Eyers, Lacan and the Concept of the Real Chapter 5

Copjec, Read My Desire Chapter 5

Zizek, “The Real of Sexual Difference”


17 Oct

Society Does Not Exist                   

Karl Marx, The German Ideology, Chapter 1

Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

Claude Levi Strauss, Elementary Structures of Kinship Chapters 1-2

“Do Dual Organizations Exist?”


24 Oct


Yannis Stavrakakis, Lacan and the Political Chapter 3

Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy Chapter 3

Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”

Badiou, “One Divides Into Two”


31 Oct

The Law                    

Freud, Totem and Taboo

Juliet Flower McCannell, The Regime of the Brother Chapters 1-2

Zizek, The Ticklish Subject, 313-334

Mladen Dolar, “Freud and the Political”


7 Nov

Pas Tout Law 

Lacan, “Kant With Sade” Ecrits 645-670

Alenka Zupancic, Ethics of the Real, 1-42, 140-169

Russell Grigg, Lacan, Language, and Philosophy Chapters 6-8

Tracy McNulty, “The Event of the Letter: Two Approaches to the Law and its Real”

14 Nov

Nothing Exists         

GWF Hegel, Science of Logic Chapter 1

Zizek, Less Than Nothing Chapter 1

Zizek, Tarrying With the Negative Chapter 4




21 Nov

The $ubject of Politics        

Lacan, Seminar 17: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, Chapters 7-8, 12-13

Badiou, Theory of the Subject, Parts I and IV

Molly Anne Rothenberg, The Excessive Subject 1-56


28 Nov

Psychoanalytic Politics       

Jodi Dean, The Communist Horizon introduction

Kiarina Kordela, “Political Metaphysics”

Todd McGowan and Paul Eisenstein, Rupture introduction

Zizek, “How to Begin From the Beginning”

5 Dec

Final Thoughts

Seminar Paper Abstract presentations

Celebrations TBD


Recommended Texts (especially for final paper research)

Bruno Bosteels, Badiou and Politics

Lorenzo Chiesa, Subjectivity and Otherness

Justin Clemens, Jacques Lacan and the Other Side of Psychoanalysis

Joan Copjec, Read My Desire, Imagine There’s No Woman

Jodi Dean, Zizek’s Politics, The Communist Horizon (available mid October)

Gilles Deleuze, Desert Islands

Mladen Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More

Dylan Evans, A Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis

Tom Eyers, Lacan and the Concept of the Real (available mid October)

Bruce Fink, The Lacanian Subject, Lacan to the Letter

Kiarina Kordela, $urplus

Todd McGowan, The End of Dissatisfaction?, The Real Gaze

Tracy McNulty, The Hostess

Molly Anne Rothenberg, Perversion and the Social Relation

Eric Santner, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, The Royal Remains

Yannis Stavrakakis, The Lacanian Left

Zizek, with Ernesto Laclau and Judith Butler, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality

Zizek, with Eric Santner and Kenneth Reinhard, The Neighbor