[artinfo] CFP: Digital Media, Psychoanalysis and the Subject

Jacob Johanssen jacob at cyborgsubjects.org
Mon Jan 25 12:52:28 CET 2016

CFP: Digital Media, Psychoanalysis and the Subject

Editors: Jacob Johanssen (University of East 
London / University of Westminster, UK) and 
Steffen Krüger (University of Oslo, Norway).

Revisiting psychoanalytic theory and practice as 
a potential for media and communication studies, 
this CfP for a special issue of CM: Communication 
and Media Journal, to be published in December 
2016, seeks to enable a dialogue between 
communication/media studies and psychoanalysis in 
order to critically explore the processes and 
dynamics of contemporary culture.

Guiding questions are:
- What are the psychoanalytic concepts and 
methodological processes that have a bearing on 
our research into media and/or communication?

- What are the implications of psychoanalysis, 
its theoretical tools and practice, for media and 
communication studies - specifically for the 
conceptions of subjectivity in the field?

- What are the implications of media and 
communication studies for psychoanalytic 
concepts/ practice?

Call for Papers:
For the past two decades, critical research into 
media and communication has sought ways to 
understand the significant shift brought about by 
digitalisation and a proliferation of networked 
media. With this shift, questions of 
individuality, the single media user as entity 
and her/his relations to society have taken on 
renewed salience. Not only is consuming media 
content (films, TV series, websites etc.) 
becoming open to increasingly individual choices 
(streaming services across different mediums, for 
example), but the individual as such has become 
part of the content being produced. People find 
themselves instigated to express and share who 
they are and relate themselves to others via 
multiple, networked media channels on diverse 
platforms. These platforms are characterised by 
the double objective of enabling feelings of 
community whilst also profiting from the ensuing 
communication. Relying on targeted data 
extraction as business models, the relations they 
facilitate tend toward the commodification of the 
individual and, intentional or not, open up 
possibilities for corporate and governmental 

The notions and concepts with which researchers 
have sought to emphasise and highlight relevant 
aspects of this shifting situation, such as 
'convergence', 'connectivity', 'participation', 
'produsage', 'interactivity' and 'user-generated 
content' etc. have long since become common 
parlance. They are challenged and defended, 
changed and rearranged. To these concepts attach 
themselves a variety of approaches, theories, 
models and assumptions that focus on a diverse 
range of angles, including gender, ethnicity, 
class, subculture or group memberships from 
micro, meso, to macro perspectives. With these 
come diverse philosophies and worldviews that 
often concern questions of activity, passivity 
and agency with regard to media use.

Yet, whereas many of these approaches can be seen 
as responses to the renewed centrality of the 
individual media user, the conceptions of 
subjectivity underlying these works frequently 
remain implicit and in need of reflection. What 
is established by such 'implicit notions' of 
subjectivity (Dahlgren, 2013: 72) is an idea of 
media users leaning strongly towards rationality, 
cognition, categorisation and assimilation. 
While, as mentioned above, consumer choices 
become ever finer grained to meet individual 
demand, the challenge that the resulting notion 
of individuality poses to our conceptions of the 
subject have hardly been taken up by media and 
communication studies so far (see Willson, 2010).

Thus, in order to counter the tendency of 
foregoing the relevance of subjective experience, 
Peter Dahlgren has recently advocated 
'reactivating concerns about the subject' (2013: 
73) in media studies research, stating that 
researchers in the field need to consider also 
'communicative modes beyond the rational' (ibid: 
82). Heeding this call, psychoanalysis may be the 
discipline best equipped to point to ways out of 
the rationalistic impasse. As Brown and Lunt 
(2002) suggest, 'there is something about 
psychoanalysis that is corrosive to the whole 
model of the subject built up by the social 
identity tradition' (2002: 8) - i.e. the very 
tradition onto which implicit models of the 
subject in media and communication studies 
frequently default.

This call for papers wants to initiate a critical 
appreciation of this 'corrosiveness' of 
psychoanalytic theory as a productive potential 
for media and communication studies. With its 
diverse traditions - Freudian, Kleinian, 
Lacanian, Winnicottian, relational, etc. - 
foregrounding the conflicted, ambivalent, 
defended, divided, multifaceted, layered and 
processual aspects of human beings in their 
relations with others, psychoanalysis shifts our 
attention to contradiction, incoherence, 
ambiguity and resistance in media texts as well 
as in the responses to them. In view of the new 
media situation it seems also well worth to 
readdress the critiques of psychoanalysis brought 
forth by Michel Foucault (1966) as well as Gilles 
Deleuze and Félix Guattari (2009).

While psychoanalysis is primarily a clinical 
field, the application of theoretical and 
methodological concepts outside the consulting 
room has shown that they can be immensely 
fruitful and productive as long as they steer 
clear from broad-sweeping generalisations and 
pathologizations. Scholars within media and 
communication studies (e.g. Kris 1941, Kris and 
Leites 1947; Radway 1984; Walkerdine 1984, 2007; 
Ang 1985; Silverstone 1994; Turkle 1995, 2011; 
Hills 2002; Richards 2007; Kavka 2009; Dean 2010; 
Elliott 2013; Krzych 2010, 2013; Yates and 
Bainbridge 2012, 2014; Carpentier 2014a, b; 
Balick 2014; Krüger and Johanssen 2014, Johanssen 
forthcoming; Krüger forthcoming) have drawn on 
psychoanalytic schools in different manners and 
to varying degrees. Connecting with and 
reflecting upon this tradition, we invite 
articles that focus on the implications that 
psychoanalytic concepts and methodologies have on 
studies in media and communication, and/or, vice 
versa, the implications that media and 
communication studies have on our understanding 
of psychoanalytic concepts and practice. While 
our main focus is on digital media, we also want 
to encourage media and communication researchers 
in other fields to consider the implications of 
and for psychoanalysis.

Contributions are thus invited to address the following questions:

- What are the psychoanalytic concepts and 
methodological processes that have a bearing on 
our research into media communication?

- What are the implications of psychoanalysis, 
its theoretical tools and practice, for media and 
communication studies - specifically for the 
conceptions of subjectivity in the field?

- What are the implications of media and 
communication studies for psychoanalytic 
concepts/ practice?

These broader questions can translate into more specific ones, e.g.:
- What has psychoanalysis to offer to the interpretation of research data?

- What is the legacy and/or future of 
psychoanalytic thinking in media and 
communication research?

- Which psychoanalytic concepts are useful for 
thinking about the limiting as well as empowering 
opportunities that present themselves within 
contemporary digital culture?

- How is this culture useful for thinking about psychoanalysis?

- What and how can we understand the subject in 
relation to concrete patterns of media content 
production and consumption?

- How does the subject cope with and make sense 
of the ubiquity of media communication? With what 
psychosocial effects?

Possible fields of study are:
- Psychoanalysis and media surveillance
- Psychoanalysis and data ownership
- Psychoanalysis and media audiences
  - Psychoanalysis and social media (self 
presentation, narcissism, flaming, trolling, etc.)
- Psychoanalysis and media institutions
- Psychoanalysis and journalistic practices
- Psychoanalysis, media and ideology

The editors specifically invite authors to 
initiate conversations between psychoanalytic 
concepts and media scholarship. Theoretical or 
empirical works are equally welcome.
We invite full papers (6000-8000 words including 
references) as well as shorter commentaries (up 
to 3000 words) on the topic. Please submit 
abstracts (300 words) by 25 March 2016 to: 
<mailto:digit.psa at gmail.com>digit.psa at gmail.com.

25 March: Deadline for abstract submissions. 
Authors will be notified within two weeks.
27 June: Deadline for full paper submissions.
16 September: Deadline for submission of revised papers.
31 October: Deadline for final author revisions.

About the Editors
Jacob Johanssen 
(<mailto:j.johanssen at westminster.ac.uk>j.johanssen at westminster.ac.uk) 
is in the final stages of his PhD research at the 
University of East London and Visiting Lecturer 
at the University of Westminster. His PhD 
research involved interviews with viewers of the 
programme 'Embarrassing Bodies' and explores 
their investments, affective responses and wider 
viewing practices by drawing on media studies and 
psychoanalysis both theoretically and 
methodologically. His research interests include 
psychoanalysis and the media, affect theory, 
psychosocial studies, critical theory, as well as 
digital culture.

Steffen Krüger, PhD, 
(<mailto:steffen.krueger at media.uio.no>steffen.krueger at media.uio.no) 
is postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the 
Department of Media and Communication, University 
of Oslo (Norway). He is contributing editor of 
the journal American Imago - Psychoanalysis and 
the Human Sciences. In his current research into 
digital culture, he analyses forms of interaction 
in digital media from a psychosocial, and 
specifically, depth-hermeneutic perspective.

About CM
CM: Communication and Media Journal is based in 
Serbia, at the University of Belgrade 
CM is an open access, double blind peer reviewed 
academic journal. Over the past years, several 
special issues, aimed at an international 
academic audience, have been published (such as 
Interrogating audiences: Theoretical horizons of 
participation, edited by Carpentier and Dahlgren, 

Ang, I. (1985) Watching Dallas: Soap opera and 
the melodramatic imagination. London: Routledge.

Balick, A. (2014) The psychodynamics of social 
networking; Connected up instantaneous culture 
and the self. London: Karnac.

Brown, S. D. and Lunt, P. (2002) 'A genealogy of 
the social identity tradition: Deleuze and 
Guattari and social psychology', British Journal 
of Social Psychology (2002), 41, 1-23

Carpentier, N. (2014a) 'Participation as a 
fantasy: A psychoanalytical approach to 
power-sharing fantasies', in Kramp, L., 
Carpentier, N., Tomaniç TrivundÏa, I., Nieminen, 
H., Kunelius, R., Olsson, T., Sundin, E. and 
Kilborn, R. (eds.). Media practice and everyday 
agency in Europe. Bremen: Edition Lumière, pp. 

Carpentier, N. (2014b) '"Fuck the clowns from 
Grease!!": Fantasies of participation and agency 
in the Youtube comments on a Cypriot problem 
documentary', Information, Communication & 
Society, 17, 8, pp.1001-1016.

Dahlgren, P. (2013) 'Tracking the civic subject 
in the media landscape: Versions of the 
democratic ideal', Television & New Media, 14, 1, 
pp. 71-88.

Dean, J. (2010) Blog Theory, New York: Polity.

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (2009 [1972]). 
Anti-oedipus. Capitalism and schizophrenia. 
London: Penguin.

Elliott, A. (2013) 'Miniaturized mobilities: 
Transformations in the storage, containment and 
retrieval of affect', Psychoanalysis, Culture and 
Society, 18, 71-80.

Foucault, M. (1970 [1966]) The Order of Things: 
An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, New York: 

  Hills, M. (2002) Fan cultures. London: Routledge.

  Johanssen, J. (forthcoming) 'Did we fail? 
Counter-(transference) in a qualitative media 
research interview', Interactions: Studies in 
Communication and Culture, forthcoming 2016, 7: 1.

Kavka, M. (2009) Reality television, affect and 
intimacy: Reality matters. Basingstoke: Palgrave 

Kris, E. (1941) 'The "danger" of propaganda', American Imago, 2 (1), 3-42.

  Kris, E. and Leites, N. (1947) Trends in 
twentieth century propaganda. In G. Roheim (Ed.) 
Psychoanalysis and the social sciences (pp. 
393-409). New York: International University 

  Krüger, S. (forthcoming) 'Understanding 
Affective Labor Online -  a depth-hermeneutic 
reading of the My 22nd of July webpage', ephemera 
- theory and politics in organization, 16: 3.

  Krüger, S. and Johanssen, J. (2014) 'Alienation 
and digital labour-A depth-hermeneutic inquiry 
into online commodification and the unconscious', 
tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. 
Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable 
Information Society, 12: 2, pp. 632-647.

Krzych, S. (2010) 'Phatic Touch, or, The Instance 
of the Gadget in the Unconscious', Paragraph 33.3.

Krzych, S. (2013) 'Introduction to the special 
section on the digital subject', Psychoanalysis, 
Culture and Society, 18, 56-62.

Radway, J.A. (1984) Reading the romance: Women, 
patriarchy, and popular literature. Chapel Hill: 
University of North Carolina Press.

Richards, B. (2007) Emotional governance: 
Politics, media and terror. Basingstoke: Palgrave 

Silverstone, R. (1994) Television and everyday life. London: Routledge.

Turkle, S. (1995) Life on the Screen. Identity in 
the age of the internet, New York: Simon & 

Turkle, S. (2011) Alone Together, New York: Basic Books.

Walkerdine, V. (1986) 'Video replay', in Burgin, 
V., Donald, J. and Kaplan, C. (eds.) Formations 
of fantasy. London: Verso, pp. 167-199.

Walkerdine, V. (2007) Children, Gender, 
Videogames. Towards a Relational Approach to 
Multimedia, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Willson, M. (2010), 'The Possibilities of 
Networked Sociality', in: J. Hunsinger et al., 
International Handbook of Internet Research, 
Springer Science and Business Media, 493-505.

Yates, C. ad Bainbridge, C. (2014) Media and the 
inner world: Psycho-cultural approaches to 
emotion, media and popular culture. Basingstoke: 
Palgrave Macmillan.

Yates, C. and Bainbridge, C. (2012) 'Introduction 
to special issue on media and the inner world: 
New perspectives on psychoanalysis and popular 
culture', Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 
17, 2, pp. 113-119.

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