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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Little Madnesses: Winnicott, Transitional Phenomena and Cultural Experience-A Symposium

Venue: Chandler House Wakefield Street WC1N 1PF London

'Little madnesses' are our most deeply felt enthusiasms, investments and attachments in the sphere of culture. The term was coined by the child psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, whose work on transitional phenomena grew out of his naming of the transitional object, and extended into preliminary explorations of the crucial role played by cultural experience in a life that feels satisfying. In our socially and culturally sanctioned little madnesses, we can find relief from the burden of having to maintain a clear boundary between inner and outer worlds, fantasy and reality, because it is in the space between these that we can find the enthusiasms and passions that excite our creative imaginations. This idea offers intriguing pathways towards understanding how we can engage effectively with the world at a public, social level without setting aside our inner lives, our emotions and our most deeply felt attachments.

 Annette Kuhn (Queen Mary University of London): Welcome and introduction

 Victor Burgin (UC Santa Cruz, Goldsmiths University of London, and European Graduate

School):  The Location of Virtual Experience

Respondent: Patricia Townsend (Slade School of Fine Art)

 Tania Zittoun (University of Neuch√Ętel): On the Use of a Film: Cultural Experiences as Symbolic Resources

Respondent: Matt Hills (University of Aberystwyth)

 Lesley Caldwell (UCL and Winnicott Trust): Closing remarks


The symposium is the culmination of Transitional Phenomena and Cultural Experience (T-PACE), an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaborative project led by Annette Kuhn  It coincides with the publication of Little Madnesses, a book that explores the idea of transitional phenomena and its potential to extend and deepen our understanding of cultural experience in mental and social life, and includes contributions by the speakers.  Other T-PACE members will also take part in the symposium.


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