Throwing the case open: The impossible subject of Luisa Passerini’s Autobiography of a Generation

A further piece from the forthcoming History of the Human Sciences special issue on John Forrester’s work on thinking in cases is now available online: “Throwing the case open: The impossible subject of Luisa Passerini’s Autobiography of a Generation,” by Matt ffytche. Abstract:

For John Forrester, the ‘case’, particularly in its psychoanalytic version, makes possible a science of the particular – knowledge open to the differences of individuals and situations. This article takes up that aspect of Forrester’s account that linked the psychoanalytic case with forms of autobiography – new narrations of that particular self. After Freud, many authors – literary and psychoanalytic – have taken up the challenge of narrating subjectivity in new forms, engaging a quasi-psychoanalytic framework (H. D., Walter Benjamin, Frantz Fanon, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick are examples). Focusing on Luisa Passerini’s text Autobiography of a Generation, which deals with the Italian experience of 1968, the article examines some of the features of such hybrid texts, and argues that psychoanalysis makes a contribution not just to the forms of self-investigation they pursue, but more significantly to the search for a radically new methodology of narration. Such models end up as ‘impossible’ cases, but in so doing they explore new interdisciplinary means for understanding the historical shaping of subjectivity.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.