Sex, Paranoia and the Workplace - Jennifer Doyle (UC-Riverside)

03/30/2017 - 5:00pm
Gregory Hall 223

Join us for a lecture by Jennifer Doyle (UC-Riverside), "Sex, Paranoia and the Workplace"

Sigmund Freud's short essay "A Case of Paranoia Running Counter to the Psychoanalytic Theory of the Disease" played an important role in feminist and queer theory through the 1980s and 1990s. It is the subject of Naomi Schor's essay "Female Paranoia," features in Jack Halberstam's Skin Shows and in Patricia White's important "Female Spectator/Lesbian Specter." The essay drew critical attention for the cinematic intensity of the subject's fantasy, for the overt sexism and homophobia of Freud's interpretation, and for the essay's alignment of paranoia with theory. Paranoia itself is all over queer theory, as it "enjoys" a privileged role in the articulation and management of same-sexdesire within the structures of homosocial bonds and identities. The turn to affect theory — to non-Oedipal psychoanalytic models — shifted discourse away from this line of thought.

Here, Doyle returns to the subject of desire, gender and paranoia to recover the context for this particular case history: "A Case of Paranoia" is a workplace complaint. Its subject had an affair with a co-worker, and is plagued by the worry that she will lose her job because of this. She re-reads this essay from a Marxist feminist perspective in order to surface the contradictions produced by the disavowals which produce the workplace as a non-sexual space. This talk works toward addressing the questions: Why is sexual harassment so endemic? Why does it feel so inevitable?