Why Theory
Why Theory
Todd McGowan & Ryan Engley
Why Theory brings continental philosophy and psychoanalytic theory together to examine cultural phenomena.
Screwball Comedy
Ryan and Todd begin a series of discussions about the classical Hollywood genres with the screwball comedy, a genre that centers on the sexual antagonism. They look at the film that kicks off the genre, It Happened One Night, as well as the high point of the genre, Bringing Up Baby, in addition to others. Ryan was recently a guest discussing graduate student conferences, which one can listen to here: https://soundcloud.com/lclcoralhistory
Aug 6
1 hr 27 min
Mourning and Melancholia
Ryan and Todd are joined for the episode by James Godley, who recently organized a conference on mourning and the pandemic, entitled "In the Wake of the Plague" (which one can access here: https://sites.dartmouth.edu/wake-of-the-plague/), to discuss Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia." They probe the cultural resonances of the text and question the reasons for its massive popularity among Freud's writings.
Jul 23
1 hr 27 min
Wild Psychoanalysis
Ryan and Todd analyze Freud's essay "Wild Psychoanalysis" and delve into the problem of treating symptoms with knowledge rather than addressing the enjoyment that they offer. Even though this is a minor Freud essay, it provides one of the pillars for a psychoanalytic approach to politics.
Jul 9
1 hr 20 min
Abortion Theory
In this special episode, Ryan and Todd address the newly minted US Supreme Court decision that overturns the nationwide right to abortion access. They delve into the history of the famous decision granting abortion rights and theorize what has changed. During this discussion, they use the so-called abortion episode from the television series "Maude" as a reference point. The works referenced in the episode can be found here: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6e2rff and here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv1bmY4Wd34
Jun 25
1 hr 20 min
Quilting Point
Ryan and Todd investigate the concept of the quilting point (point de capiton), as originally coined by Jacques Lacan and then in additional permutations. They attempt to develop this concept in further directions that challenge Lacan's original theorization of it in order to uncover its political efficacy.
Jun 11
1 hr 22 min
Seminar 3
Ryan and Todd provide their reading of Jacques Lacan's Seminar III devoted to the psychoses. They focus on the idea of the foreclosure of the paternal signifier while also addressing the role that Lacan theorizing the imaginary having in psychosis. They also outline the theory of the signifier that Lacan articulates in this seminar and how it relates to his later theorizing.
May 29
1 hr 24 min
Hamlet
Ryan and Todd address the history of psychoanalytic interpretations of Shakespeare's Hamlet, devoting time to both Freud and Lacan's reading. They then delve into the play as a work of modernity, seeing in it the modern project that attempts to reject the authority of tradition and of the father. Ryan's article on seriality and binge mentioned in the episode is located here: https://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10092/103108/22%20Engley.pdf?sequence=3
May 14
1 hr 31 min
Streaming
Ryan and Todd question the theoretical implications of the development of streaming for narrative, spectatorship, and politics. They look at the changes that streaming ushers in and the hidden continuity between streaming and earlier aesthetic forms.
May 1
1 hr 15 min
The Woman Doesn't Exist (Aphorism 8)
Ryan and Todd explore Lacan's late aphorism, "The Woman doesn't exist." They address the importance of this statement for psychoanalytic feminism and the complications that have arisen from it. The relation between signifying logic and the sociocultural situation becomes a central part of their discussion.
Apr 17
1 hr 12 min
Film Noir
Ryan and Todd explore theories of film noir and try to account for its success as a cinematic movement. They discuss films such as Out of the Past, Double Indemnity, and The Third Man, as well as figures such as the femme fatale and the hard-boiled detective in an effort to understand what gives film noir its radicality.
Apr 3
1 hr 21 min
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