Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Adam Phillips Seminar 

 Adam Phillips

Ordinary Language Psychoanalysis

The title of this seminar is derived from Ordinary Language Philosophy and its focus on the ordinary uses of language and what they reveal. We will trace this sense of the ordinary in the non-esoteric psychoanalysis of a movement in British psychoanalysis known as the ‘Independent Group’, whose members include D.W. Winnicott (1896-71), Marion Milner (1900-1998) and Masud Khan (1924-1989). The seminar will consider this version of psychoanalysis as a radical redescription of what the aims of psychoanalysis might be, through the close study of a series of papers in the independent tradition. Areas of focus will include this tradition’s investments in the significance of aesthetic experience and literature, in democratic relationships, in teaching, and in conceptions of the private and the public – and public service.

About Adam Phillips

Adam Phillips is a practicing psychoanalyst and a visiting professor of English at the University of York. He was formerly chief psychologist at Charing Cross Hospital in London. Both the New Yorker and Le Monde have described Adam Phillips as ‘Britain’s foremost psychoanalytic writer’, and John Banville has praised him as ‘one of the finest prose stylists at work in the language, an Emerson of our time.’ He has been a regular writer for The London Review of Books, the Observer, and the New York Times for many years, and is the author of several books, including On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored (1994), On Flirtation (1995), The Beast in the Nursery (1998), Darwin’s Worms (1999), Houdini’s Box (2001), Going Sane (2005), Side Effects (2006), On Balance (2010), Missing Out (2012), Becoming Freud (2014) and Unforbidden Pleasures (2015).

Seminar Format and Schedule

Ordinary Language Psychoanalysis takes place three times a year. Each seminar lasts one and a half to two hours. Attendance is free and open to everyone, but there is a small amount of required reading, which will be uploaded to this page a few weeks in advance of each meeting. At each seminar Phillips will introduce the paper and lead the discussion.

The first seminar will take place at 4pm on Wednesday 14 November in the Rainolds Room, Corpus Christi College, paper for the first meeting, D.W. Winnicott, 'Morals and Education'.

Please note that the second session of the seminar will have a special format as a dialogue on ‘Art and Psychology’ between Adam Phillips and TJ Clark, as part of Corpus’ John Ruskin 200th anniversary celebration. This event will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 9 January, in the Auditorium, Corpus Christi College. Please click here for more information. 

Organisers: Professor Jaś Elsner, Professor Constanze Güthenke and Dr David Russell

Enquiries: please contact Dr David Russell,

Marion Milner         Winnicott


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