Underworld USA: Psychoanalysis and Film Theory in the 1980s
This chapter is an attempt to review the role of psychoanalysis in film theory, and in particular, the way it has been used to propose a metapsychology of cinema. The use of the term metapsychology follows Freud’s description of his papers on ‘Instincts and Their Vicissitudes’, ‘Repression’ and ‘The Unconscious’, published in 1915, as metapsychological; that is, concerned with producing general theoretical concepts for the understanding of human psychology. In a similar way, a metapsychology of cinema will be concerned with the phenomenon of cinema in general for the individual psyche. It asks, how is the spectator a subject, in the psychoanalytic sense, for cinema? How does cinema work on us and for us as psychical subjects, that is, as subjects of desire?
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