The practice of psychoanalytic studies owes its existence to many
fieldssome psychology here, a little philosophy there. Emorys
program in psychoanalytic studies owes its existence to the hard
work of a host of professors, administrators and graduate students.
Psychoanalytic studies has just been an intellectual idea
until very recently, said Elissa Marder, associate professor
of French and director of the 4-year-old program. Theres
no office, and we have no phone number, yet this is one of the most
powerful intellectual centers at Emory.
Throughout the countryinternationally, in factEmorys
Psychoanalytic Studies Program is seen as the ideal other universities
strive to emulate. Universities like Columbia and Southern Methodist
as well as schools as far off as England and Argentina have contacted
Emory for tips on how to build their own psychoanalytic studies
I didnt foresee the growth, but I am pleased to see
how it has taken shape, said Bobby Paul, acting dean of Emory
College and the man who spearheaded the programs creation.
This is a real example of something that was built from the
In the mid-1990s, Paul, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of
Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Study, received clinical training
and eventually a certificate as a psychoanalyst from Emorys
A longtime scholar of psychological anthropology, Pauls experience
gave him an interesting perspective in that he was able to view
psychoanalytic studies from two viewpoints: that of a clinician
as well as an academic. I was eager to bridge the gap between
the two, he said.
In 1996, with the help of a small, interdisciplinary committee
of writers, Paul drafted a proposal for the program. The envisioned
program would utilize faculty members already at Emory and be made
up of courses already being taughtPaul also would teach an
In spring 1997, Paul received a University Teaching Fund (UTF)
grant and used it to lay the programs groundwork. By the fall,
it was up and running. With limited resources, Paul needed a lot
of helpwhich he got.
It was a staggering stroke of luck for us to have some very
talented and academically gifted, high-energy graduate students
who have played an active role in the creation of the program,
Much of the work in building the program has been done by the students
who have benefited from it. Fund raising, programming, advertising,
planning conferences and speaker appearances, constructing the web
page, all of these activities crucial to solidifying the program
came from the labor of graduate students.
Students like Aimee Pozorski, who co-wrote an article describing
the program for The Journal of Higher Education; and Eddie
Gamarra, who along with Lisa Diedrich will make up the first graduating
class of psychoanalytic studies minors this May, are two examples
of the kind of students Paul is talking about.
Being a student who is also involved in administration has
been very gratifying, and its been a great way for me to learn
how to train newer and younger graduate students, said Gamarra,
who has been a graduate student in the Institute of Liberal Arts
since 1996 and worked with the Psychoanalytic Studies Program since
To earn a minor in psychoanalytic studies (a major is not offered),
a graduate student must take three courses listed as part of the
program as well as the seminar Introduction to Psychoanalytic
Studies. To say students have a variety of academic disciplines
from which to choose is an understatement.
This semester, classes in 10 departments, including disciplines
as varied as comparative literature, psychology, philosophy, womens
studies and French, can be applied to psychoanalytic studies.
Minors must also participate in the programs twice-a-month
brown bag and monthly colloquia series. The brown bags most often
feature Emory graduate students, who discuss aspects of their work.
The colloquia are primarily opportunities to hear scholars, from
both within and without the University, discuss psychoanalytic topics.
Psychoanalysis offers one of the most genuinely fertile fields
for productive interdisciplinary scholarship, Marder said.
On one level its intrinsically interdisciplinary because
its both a theory and a practice.
Marder signed on as director for two years, and she already has
a vision of where she would like to take the growing program.
There is a sense that if psychoanalysis is going to have
a future in the 21st century it wont be a purely located in
the medical sciences, Marder said. The medical field is where
psychoanalytic studies is a clinical practice; when applied in other
disciplines, such as English or history, its theoretical aspect
takes shape. There is a sense of trying to bring together
medical research with people in academia, she continued.
Marder said one of her goals is to determine existing areas of
concentration and research in psychoanalytic studies around campus.
The next step would be to identify faculty members who fall into
these categories and contact them about applying their work to the
program. These areas of concentration, like everything else about
the program, are wide ranging: gender and sexuality, trauma, and
anthropology are just three avenues of exploration.
This plan is similar to the way psychoanalytic studies has been
built already, only the scale is much larger.
In my term Id like to develop rigorous faculty participation,
Marder said. I dont want to burden anyones time,
but instead maximize the energy people are already expending.