Talk at Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań

4 Nov

After having to cancel this talk last year owing to a skateboarding injury (don’t ask), I’m getting ready to give this talk at Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań (Poland) on Thanksgiving morning (which apparently isn’t a problem in Poland): 

The Self Within:  Metaphors of Interiority and Containment in American Therapeutic Culture

This presentation builds on an emerging interdisciplinary focus on what is termed “therapeutic culture.” Such perspectives consider the increasingly pervasive presence of psychological, therapeutic and emotional rhetorics in public discourse and private life, evidenced in the popularity of self-help books, the establishment of professional norms centered on personal feelings and affect management, and a broader centering of government policy on matters such as happiness, loneliness and other aspects of emotional well being.  Specifically, this presentation will consider one powerful theme woven through many of these discourses: the problem of “interiority,” where therapeutic subjectivity is related through the urgent need to “get inside oneself.”  Interiority, it is argued, is a theme related through rich metaphorical language, though its effect goes beyond the linguist and the emotional, carrying a powerful bodily resonance.  Borrowing from recent treatments of metaphor in cognitive and linguistic theory, as well as historical overviews of the popularity of therapeutic sensibilities in the American context, metaphors of interiority are explored in historical cases drawn from the American context, extending from the humanistic psychology movement of  the 1960’s and 70s to the franchise of publications from the 1990s celebrating the “inner child” motif.  Therapeutic appeals to “inwardness,” are traced from more radical forms in the 1960s to their incorporation as a managerial trope in neoliberal economic times.  


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