In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud famously compared the act of interpreting a dream to the translation of a text. This metaphorical use of translation has not only had an impact on the way psychoanalysts understand their own practice, but also on translation studies or traductologie, a burgeoning interdisciplinary field since the 1970s. The metaphorical connection between the act of dream interpretation and the activity of translation has been extended in the past years, heavily relying on a psychoanalytic vocabulary in order to address the translators’ ‘unconscious’ and affective processes of ‘transference’ occurring in their work. In this vein, the translator has been characterized as a ‘rewriter’ whose stance towards the original work and its author is deeply ambivalent. This talk will problematize such theoretical transpositions by introducing a historical perspective on the figure of the ‘ambivalent translator’ in early psychoanalysis. The first model translations of Freud’s works also yield theoretical and practical insights that challenge current philological standards in translation.

Andreas Mayer is a historian and sociologist of science working as a senior researcher at the CNRS and teaching at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In 2019/2020 he is a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He has published extensively on the history of the human sciences and of psychoanalysis, most notably, Dreaming by the Book: Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams and the History of the Psychoanalytic Movement (with Lydia Marinelli, 2003), Sites of the Unconscious: Hypnosis and the Emergence of the Psychoanalytic Setting (2013), Sigmund Freud (2016), Introduction à Sigmund Freud (2020), and The Science of Walking. Investigations Into Locomotion in the Long Nineteenth Century (forthcoming).

In English
Organized by

A cooperation of the BIPP, the Department of Cultural History and Theory of the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, the International Psychoanalytic University Berlin (IPU), and the ICI Berlin, organized by Wilhelm Brüggen (BIPP), Monika Englisch, and Andreas Gehrlach (HU Berlin)

The lecture series Psychoanalytic and Cultural Theory devotes itself to the influence of psychoanalysis on cultural theories at large as well as to particularly poignant applications of psychoanalytical research to current cultural phenomena. The central psychoanalytic concepts of Freud and his successors are to be taken up in an open and non-partisan fashion and applied to the cultural, political, and economic phenomena encountered today. Whereas early psychoanalysis dealt primarily with the family as it was shaped by bourgeois Victorian society, current research increasingly focuses on extreme kinds of individualization, social uncertainties and threats, as well as on new digital and technological cultural techniques. The series would like to develop new, critical, and innovative readings of psychoanalytic theory and combine them with concepts and ideas from the humanities and from cultural critique.


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