Call for papers: Skin, Culture and Psychoanalysis

Edited by Sheila L. Cavanagh, Rachel Hurst and Angela Failler
Deadline for submissions: 15 February 2009

The editors of Skin, Culture and Psychoanalysis invite contributions for an interdisciplinary collection on the cultural politics and psychoanalysis of skin. We welcome papers that unhinge skin from the biological sciences to examine its layers of significance by way of social and psychoanalytic critique. Skin is the first and enduring medium through which we encounter the world. It delimits interiority and exteriority and, consequently, our relationships to self and others. Skin is laden with unconscious meanings and those we attach to it with respect to gender, sexuality, ‘race’ and racialization, religion, nationality, class, and dis/ability. Moreover, as both “screen” and “container,” skin functions to simultaneously reveal and hide the ways we negotiate identity, body and culture. Perhaps due to these complexities, skin remains an under-theorized yet productive site of inquiry.    

Skin, Culture and Psychoanalysis connects theory from various disciplines with a range of practices from the clinical domain to fine and performing arts. This collection locates skin at the centre of inquiry, rather than as a jumping-off point from which to study “deeper” topics. Papers focusing on actual and fantastical skins are welcome, as are interdisciplinary works on skin from the arts and humanities, the social sciences, psychoanalytic clinicians, and cultural critics of diverse intellectual traditions.  

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

–    the skin ego
–    racialization and the production of “national skins”
–    transgendered/transsexual skins
–    gendered and eroticized skins
–    childhood skins
–    aging skins
–    traumatized/injured skin
–    skin memory
–    skin in art, literature, sculpture and photography
–    skin in film and popular culture
–    cyberskins
–    monstrous skins
–    skin dis-ease
–    body modification and cosmetic surgery
–    psychodermatology

Please send a 500-1000 word abstract, working title, and brief biographical statement in a MS Word or PDF attachment to Rachel Hurst at on or before 15 February 2009 (inquires may also be sent to this address).  Do not send complete papers.  We will invite papers for the collection by March 15, 2009.  Final papers will be due July 1, 2009 and will range in length from 5000-8000 words.


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