Invitation to the Psychohistory Forum’s Work-In-Progress Virtual Conference

Subject: “Poetry and Psychohistory/Psychoanalysis”

on November 4, 2023 (Saturday)
from 10:30 am-1:00 pm (EDT)
[room opens at 10am]

Presenters: Judith Harris, PhD, Juhani Ihanus, PhD, and Howard Stein, PhD

Virtual Participation via Zoom.
RSVP is required (see the RSVP form below)
Zoom link will be provided to you after you complete the form

Poetry, as a medium of artistic expression, and psychohistory, as a lens for understanding the collective psychological factors influencing historical events, have both offered unique insights into the human experience. Poetry touches our emotions directly, and our colleagues Howard Stein, Peter Petschauer, and other psychohistorians have pioneered connecting poetry to psychohistory. The special issue of Clio dedicated to connection of psychohistory and psychoanalysis to poetry will explore how poetry can illuminate the psychological undercurrents of historical moments and how psychohistorical insights can deepen our appreciation and interpretation of poetic works.

These are the abstracts of the papers, the short bios, and the papers written by our three presenters:

APPLIED POETRY AND THE NATURE OF TRUTH IN PSYCHOHISTORY
Howard F. Stein — University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
[A Symposium Article]

ABSTRACT:
This paper explores the contribution of applied psychohistorical poetry to the question of truth in psychohistorical scholarship, data, methodology, and theory. The author suggests that applied poetry offers a different, complementary way of knowing. The truth it reveals is indirect rather than direct.

INTRODUCTION:
In my study of applied poetry — a term that I define as poetry that directly engages the world through an intersubjective use of countertransference — I have asked: What does applied poetry contribute to knowledge in the field of psychohistory? This paper questions and explores knowledge, interpretations, and explanations of historical and cultural processes and argues that applied poetry gives us access to unconscious depth while deepening psychohistorical interpretations and explanations.

Let me begin to answer these questions by identifying some of the contrasts or polarities (binaries) between ways of knowing that applied poetry offers and those that other psychohistorical approaches provide: direct (lineal) vs. indirect contact with the world; concrete language vs. allusion; description vs. evocation; part vs. whole; concrete vs. abstraction;  narrative explanation vs. brief, condensed suggestion; stay at the surface vs. provide access to the unconscious and intersubjective.

[Scroll down for the links to the full article.]

SHORT BIO OF THE AUTHOR:

Howard F. Stein, PhD, is Professor Emeritus, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He is author, co-author, and editor of 35 books, several hundred published papers and chapters, and over 300 poems.  He is Poet Laureate of The Psychohistory Forum and the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Psychohistory from The Psychohistory Forum in March 2023.  His most recent poetry books are Whiteboardings: Creating Collaborative Poetry in a Third Space (2023), co-authored with Seth Allcorn; Presence – Poems from Ghost Ranch (2020); Centre and Circumference (2028); and Light and Shadow (2018). He collaborated with Seth Allcorn on The Psychodynamics of Toxic Organizations: Poetry, Stories, and Analysis (2020).  Stein can be reached at hfs.dad@gmail.com.

Download the paper by following this link:
https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/od56ijifrnk0nq9plzaoc/Howard-Stein-Applied-Poetry-and-the-Nature-of-Truth-in-Psychohistory-Symposium-article.pdf?rlkey=nkihpsqcn0tmref5ev452y9bf&dl=1

POETRY, PSYCHOANALYSIS, AND PSYCHOHISTORY: TOWARD A RENEWED UNDERSTANDING
Judith Harris, PhD — Poet and Scholar
[A Symposium Article]

ABSTRACT:
This paper strives to explore the continuous connections of psychoanalysis, psychohistory, and poetry as well as the quiet, liminal spaces that go beyond the boundaries of ego organization and account for the mysterious and transformational aspects of myth, dream, and imagination in literary expression.

INTRODUCTION:

One of the aims of psychohistory is to formulate paradigms for understanding how unconscious processes motivate human behavior and shape culture. Yet the social sciences have largely overlooked the essential role of these processes in the creation and reception of literary works, the basic components of any meaningful psychohistory of the arts.  In this paper, I wish to investigate the continuous connections of psychoanalysis, psychohistory, and poetry. I also want to explore the quiet, liminal spaces that go beyond the boundaries of ego organization and account for the mysterious and transformational aspects of myth, dream, and imagination in literary expression.

[Scroll down for the links to the full article.]

SHORT BIO OF THE AUTHOR:

Judith Harris, PhD, is the author of three books of poetry and a critical book on psychoanalysis and literature, Signifying Pain: Constructing and Healing the Self through Writing (2003).  Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The New Republic, Slate, and The New York Times blog.  She is a recipient of a Yaddo fellowship.  Recently, she published The Poetry of Loss: Romantic and Contemporary Elegies (2023) through Routledge.  She can be contacted at jlha@gwmail.gwu.edu.

Download the paper by following this link:
https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/fgdv4y2j4dpbttqieyzec/Harris-Fine-Poetry-Work-in-Progress-Meeting-11-4-23.pdf?rlkey=wt7nay21jlwrxqf9xidwq018p&dl=1

POETIC INSIGHT AND PSYCHOHISTORICAL UNDERSTANDING: ON RECIPROCAL IMAGINATION
Juhani Ihanus, PhD — University of Helsinki
[A Symposium Article]

ABSTRACT:
Poetic inquiry and psychohistorical research are not seen as opposites but as complementary approaches to personal and collective history and memory. The space of poetry enables playful associations, reflections, and transference concerning historical phenomena and cultural transitions. Through reciprocal expressive imagination, poetic insight and psychohistorical understanding can explore emotions, fantasies, reveries, motivations, and memories. Combining their creative resources, poetry and psychohistory can reach enlightening vistas into the different layers of personality, society, and culture, with transformative effects.

INTRODUCTION:

That poets invented false stories, presenting them as myths, and were thus liars, was the general view in ancient Greece. It prevailed into late antiquity, even when alternative views were gradually proposed.  For example, poets were regarded as transmitters of myths, distorters of the divine truth, or sages who preserved and revealed ancient wisdom, especially through orally repeated words that consolidated human memory. Philosophers and cosmologists were supposed to criticize and reinterpret the poets’ myths, but they, too, often used poetry as their means of expression because it was believed to be more effective than prose in transferring the messages, giving dignity to the mysteries of the cosmos, and following the paths of “sweetened language” that incorporated rhythm and melody.

[Scroll down for the links to the full article.]

SHORT BIO OF THE AUTHOR:

Juhani Ihanus, PhD, is Associate Professor of Cultural Psychology at the University of Helsinki, and Associate Professor of the History of Science and Ideas at the University of Oulu.  He is also an international member of the Psychohistory Forum who has published books and articles on psychohistory, cultural and clinical psychology, psychoanalytic theory, biblio/poetry therapy, and the history of psychology. Dr. Ihanus may be reached at juhani.ihanus@helsinki.fi.

Download the paper by following this link:
https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/274r2uxowftyypn7gd3xc/Juhani-Poetry-Article-for-Work-in-Progess-Meeting-11-4-23.pdf?rlkey=zjh1vr1nshgqi646rchrdl3tz&dl=1

RSVP form

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We hope you can join us for this event!

Sincerely yours,

Paul,
Paul H. Elovitz, PhD, Historian, Research Psychoanalyst, Online Professor, Editor, Clio’s Psyche, and author The Making of Psychohistory: Origins, Controversies, and Pioneering Contributors (Routledge, 2018), editor of The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory (2021) and author of over 400 publications. E-mail: cliospsycheeditor@gmail.com.

Inna,
Inna Rozentsvit, M.D., PhD, MBA, MSciEd, Physician, Neuropsychoanalyst, Neuropsychoeducator, Associate Editor of Clio’s Psyche and Associate Director of the Psychohistory Forum. E-mail: inna.rozentsvit@gmail.com. Web: www.innarozentsvit.com.