Bracha L. Ettinger, Fragilizing the Self: The Matrixial Borderspace

Date and time: Friday, May 29, 2015 (14:00-17:00)
For: PhD and Research Master students
Type: Masterclass
Place: Faculty of Arts, Leuven, Belgium
Organizer(s): Stijn de Cauwer


Bracha Ettinger is a renowned and influential cultural theorist, psychoanalyst, feminist scholar and artist. Her theories have been studied in diverse disciplines, from gender studies to visual studies. Schooled in psychoanalyst theory in Paris, she moved beyond the limitations of Lacanian thought by developing her original theories about the matrixial, with concepts such as metramorphosis or borderlinking. She is the author of seminal works such as The Matrixial Borderspace. Theorists such as Judith Butler or Jean-François Lyotard have written praising articles about her work and the dialogues between Bracha Ettinger and Emmanual Levinas or Félix Guattari have been published. She has also been a successful artist with solo exhibitions in the Centre Pompidou in Paris or in the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. She has reflected extensively on the capacity of art to work through trauma or to bear witness. Currently she is professor at the European Graduate School (EGS).

Students will be given an extensive reader with texts and articles that clarify the key notions of Bracha Ettinger’s thought and that will be discussed during the seminar. The reader will include texts such as “Fragilization and Resistance”, “Wit(h)nessing Trauma and the Matrixial Gaze” from The Matrixial Borderspace, “Copoiesis” and “Fascinance. The Woman-to-woman (Girl-to-m/Other) Matrixial Feminine Difference”. Additionally, the reader will also include a short novel which will be used to illustrate her original interpretations of literary works, such as Marguerite Duras’ The Ravishing of Lol Stein or Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (two works Bracha Ettinger has analyzed). The students will be asked to write out their questions or reflections about the readings (or questions relating to their own research projects) and these will be given to Bracha Ettinger in advance and used as the basis for the discussions during the seminar. The seminar will provide a unique opportunity for students to discuss her ideas, as well as the research interests of the students, with Bracha Ettinger in person.

Intended audience: this seminar will be of interest to students of gender studies, psychoanalysis , cultural theory, contemporary art, visual studies, performance studies, art therapy, continental philosophy, literary studies, trauma and affect theory, anthropology…

Organization: Doctoral school for the humanities KU Leuven, Stijn De Cauwer (FWO postdoctoral researcher literature and culture KU Leuven, MDRN), Kurt Vanhoutte (Professor visual and performance studies University of Antwerp), Jens De Vleminck (postdoctoral researcher department of philosophy and moral sciences Ghent University, BOF)