Dr. Deborah Britzman Summer 2017 Keynote Speaker

Dr. Deborah Britzman

Dr. Deborah Britzman is Distinguished Professor of Research at York University in Toronto, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and psychoanalyst, with a small private practice. Prior to her doctoral work, Dr. Britzman taught secondary high school English and reading for five years in Hartford, Conn. She holds her doctorate degree from the University of Massachusetts (1985), taught at the State University of New York (Binghamton) for six years, and then in 1993, moved to Canada to assume a Faculty position at York University. She is a member of the Faculty of Education and holds numerous graduate cross appointments.

Dr. Britzman is author of nine books, seven of which address the field of psychoanalysis and education. Her most recent books are, The Very Thought of Education: Psychoanalysis and the Impossible Professions (SUNY Press, 2009); Freud and Education (with Routledge, 2011); A Psychoanalyst in the Classroom (2015, SUNY Press); and Melanie Klein: Early Analysis, Play and the Question of Freedom (Springer 2016). Since 1986, Dr. Britzman has authored over 100 articles and book chapters.

Dr. Britzman’s current research involves studies in mental health with an emphasis on the emotional world of affecting education. Highlighted are literary, clinical, historical, and narrative representations of the education and practices of teachers, professors, students and psychoanalysts. Her most cited book remains, Practice Makes Practice: A Critical Study of learning to teach (2nd edition 2003, with SUNY Press).


2017 Joint PhD Summer Session Keynote Address
Once again, but this time with feeling


A text, like a dream, has its day’s residues
J. B. Pontalis

There is a dream-like quality in expressing the act of writing as developing from a kernel of the writer’s incoherence. We wish for a smooth transition from omnipotence to experience to words and from the reservations of words to communication. Neither the force of inheritance nor unsettled ideas, however, follow the logic of the wish or mastery. Instead, we are implicated in affect. The psychoanalytic conviction is that writing mirrors unconscious impressions of our earliest infantile learning that then felt as appeals to the writer’s inheritance of her emotional situation.

This presentation leans on the idea that writing emerges where experience and communication fail and nowhere is this more evident than when the writer asks, what is missing? What comes before the writing and what kind of history can the writer face?  How may the writer express the act of writing as concern for the world of others? I make a slow case for the writer’s transformations and entanglements in the unconscious, imagination, and the world of others. I treat the act of writing as composed from traces of our earliest developmental ties of learning that gradually become the creations for the third space of culture.