Writing is thus a trace in which an effect of language can be read(se lit). That is what happens when you scribble something. Lacan
Jacques Lacan, arguably the most significant French thinker since Descartes, is expanding his presence and influence into every field of the contemporary humanities and social sciences, including literary studies, theatre, arts, philosophy, anthropology, gender studies, visual culture, aesthetics, film studies, sociology, and critical and cultural studies. Lacan’s consistent reading and interpretation of literary texts, and arts, no doubt, expand our understanding of the meaning and the truth within a literary text, the dynamics of language and the unconscious, cultural practices, drama, performance, cinema, and writing per se. That clarifies why he and his ideas were first discovered and popularised in literary circles. Lacan’s theories reflect the traditional literary criticism from Plato’s The Republic and Aristotle’s Poetics to Barthes’s Le Plaisir du Texte in a strongly multi-disciplinary context. The key concepts in Barthes’s literary theories, such as text, textuality, discourse, ‘writerly’ and ‘readerly’ texts, the pleasure of the text, and so on, had their roots in Lacan. Lacan saw literature and art as signifying practices where he looked for a hidden truth and parallels to his theories.
Driven by academic rigour and intellectual curiosity about Lacan, I established The Lacan Reading Group at Western Sydney University in 2011. In monthly seminars, a small group of PhD candidates and academics we devoted our efforts to the accessibility, discussion, and interpretation of Lacan’s baffling and paradoxical corpus, especially his texts relevant to literature and writing. I moved the group and renamed it The NIDA Lacan Study and Reading Group to the postgraduate Writing for Performance Section at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 2017. In NIDA, where we had a greater audience and were able to publish monthly seminars on a wide range of topics, including Lacan’s literary and art theories and a Lacanian analysis of many critical literary texts and works in theatre, aesthetics, art, and film studies. The NIDA helped us publish our monthly seminars by providing a site that soon attracted broader interest in Australia and overseas. Our seminars and texts have been used for academic research and translated into many European and Eastern languages. The group completed the reading of Lacan’s Seminar V: Formations of the Unconscious.
In order to reach an even broader audience and play a more considerable role in Lacan scholarship, I set up a new not-for-profit Sydney Lacan Study and Reading Network. The core interest of the network is the study of Lacan’s principle theories and their application to broader areas beyond psychoanalysis, including the examination and analysis of vast fields in literature, art, drama, philosophy, and aesthetics. The Post-structuralist discourse on Lacan’s works, especially by Kristeva, Irigaray, Cixous, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Žižek, Badiou, and others, as part of the groups’s research interests. Freud’s theories, especially his ideas about art and literature, and to some extent Jung’s ideas, also fall under our work. Lacan’s specific clinical theories and psychotherapy is not within our scope.
The network will engage with Lacan through the following activities:
This section looks for a focused, intensive, original, and interactive study of Lacan, his works, and his prospects for reading text and engaging in worldwide Lacanian scholarship. Each monthly seminar focuses on a particular text by Lacan or others in literature and arts. We announce the topic of the monthly seminars in advance. Members and subscribers will have the opportunity to select the topic or present their research papers. On the members’ requests, we organise the seminars on Zoom webinars.
Books and Art Reviews
The section will present reviews of new books and artworks. Members and subscribers will have free access to this section.
The Sydney Lacan… offers additional thought-provoking seminars and lectures on various topics related to Lacan scholarship in a wide range of humanities and social sciences. Lacanian scholars who are interested in presenting their works or research in the section could be able to take permission in advance. Separate fees will apply for those interested in participating in these activities. Onlineclass will function through Zoom.
Dr Stephen Sewell
Stephen Sewell is an internationally performed and highly awarded playwright and screenwriter who completed his Doctorate in Creativity at the University of Sydney. He was Head of Writing at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts from 2012-2021, during which time it was demonstrated in a peer reviewed paper that writers’ creativity increased significantly as a result of the pedagogical approach he and Dr. Sue Woolfe pioneered there, and which featured lectures by Dr. Azari as well as the teaching of Lacanian methods to overcome resistance and writers block. Sewell continues to be interested not only in creative work, remaining active in theatre, film, television writing and prose, but also in Lacan’s work as it applies to creativity. His new play, The Lives of Eve, will premiere in Sydney in October.
Dr Ehsan Azari Stanizai
M: 0402 440 637
Ehsan Azari Stanizai has completed his MA in English Literature and PhD in Lacan and literature from Macquarie University. He has taught different subjects at Macquarie University, Sydney University, Western Sydney University, and several colleges. He is currently looking to publish his three projects:
Reading Seminar V: Formations of the Unconscious; The Passion of Double in Gilgamesh, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, and Beckett; Mystical Experience in Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Poetry.