Psyche & Muse: Creative Entanglements with the Science of the Soul explores cultural, clinical, and scientific discourse on human psychology and its influence on twentieth-century writers, artists, and thinkers. Tracing important themes in the lives and work of key figures and artistic communities represented in the Beinecke Library’s Modern European and American Literature collections, the exhibition documents a range of imaginative encounters involving the arts and the study of the mind. The books, manuscripts, and visual works in Psyche & Muse represent aesthetic and philosophic lineages from the late nineteenth century to the postwar era; the exhibited materials reveal ways in which the study of psychology and core concepts of psychoanalysis were both intertwined and at odds with artistic production throughout the twentieth century.
As indicated by the title of one section of the exhibition, Psyche & Muse is an exploration of “mixed narratives,” problematic stories, disrupted analyses. Documenting creative processes, intricate personal interactions, and the development of thought and insight, archives can provide a singular vantage from which to view and understand complex relationships and tensions between creativity, memory, dreams, love, and human psychology. But inevitably archives tend toward the incomplete, the fragmentary. Rich and vibrant as the archival record may be, it often tells us only part of a more complicated history, giving a hazy image, part of which remains out of focus. In this way, archives resemble subjects of endless interest to psychology—dreams, language, memory. Providing views of passionate collaborations and painful ensnarements, Psyche and Muse itself can be understood as an “entanglement” of a sort; an attempt to document personal and artistic associations, the exhibition enacts as it records the problems of language and the realities of anxiety. The exhibition reveals unfixed and evolving meanings as it recounts the unusual cases and fraught stories at the intersection of creativity and modern psychology.
There is a resonant tension in Psyche & Muse between the language of the “case study” as a research methodology providing objective analysis of a subject in depth and in context, and the use of “display cases” to exhibit treasures. Are the stories told here curiosities, entertainments, exemplary creative models, or carefully documented studies of pathology? Does the archive reveal a comprehensive record available for study? Or is it a too-personal trace, telling its story with a decided slant?
Psyche & Muse considers these tensions in its exploration of many adjacent subjects documented in a broad range of materials in the Beinecke’s collections. Case Studies: American Writers Encountering Psychoanalysis illustrates the enthusiastic adoption of psychoanalytic ideas in the writings and lives of citizens of bohemian Greenwich Village in the nineteen-teens. Mixed Narratives and the Problem of Language: Homosexuality and the Search for a “Cure” outlines psychoanalytic dialogues about homosexuality from Freud’s early attempts to posit same-sex desire in the range of human sexual expression through 1950s mainstream psychiatry’s defining homosexuality as an illness in need of a psychological cure. H. D. and Freud, the Poet and the Professor illuminates a sustaining collaboration between artist and analyst. The Influence of Anxiety: Race and Writing in Jim Crow Times highlights African American writers’ use of the trope of madness and the language of existentialism and psychoanalytic inquiry in order to make sense of the conjoined taboos of race and sex, and of a “democratic” nation painfully divided.
Conflicts between Freudian and non-Freudian analysis as vehicles to contain or liberate revolutionary artistic energies are evident in Art Therapy: C. G. Jung and the Modernist Aesthetic and From Symbolism to Surrealism: Dreams, Madness, Insurrection; the fraught interactions depicted demonstrate ways in which psychiatric and psychological drives to control renegade imaginations have generated wildly divergent artistic responses. The Strange Case of Dr. Ferdière considers Gaston Ferdière’s controversial treatment of artists Antonin Artaud and Isidore Isou and the resulting fallout in European avant-garde circles.
Extending the exhibition’s exploration of both sides of the tense relationship between psychology and the arts into the cultural and countercultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s, Anti-OEdipus: Psychology, Dissent, and the “Death of the Soul” considers Michel Foucault’s critique of psychology in relation to movements promoting the civil rights of mental health patients and Jacques Lacan’s refashioning of Freudian psychoanalysis and its ramifications in feminist and neo-Marxist liberation movements. Dr. Froyd: Psychoanalysis in the Popular Imagination features critical and creative treatments of Freud and psychoanalysis in historical fiction, poetry, movies, and works of visual and textual punning, demonstrating Freud’s still controversial legacy in American culture. If each of the exhibition sections is itself a “mixed narrative,” together they suggest something of the extraordinary possibilities to be found in points of contact between the arts and the study of the mind.
Psyche and Muse: Creative Entanglements with the Science of the Soul features materials from the Beinecke Library’s Modern European Books and Manuscripts Collection, the Yale Collection of American Literature, and the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters; figures represented in the exhibition include: Antonin Artaud, James Baldwin, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andre Breton, A. A. Brill, Jean-Martin Charcot, H. D., Mabel Dodge Luhan, Max Ernst, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Moss Hart, Isidore Isou, William James, Carl Jung, Lawrence Kubie, Jacques Lacan, George Platt Lynes, Eugene O’Neill, Wilhelm Reich, Jean Toomer, Glenway Wescott, Edmund White, Richard Wright, and Gregory Zilboorg.
Curator of Poetry
Yale Collection of American Literature
Psyche and Muse Coordinating Curator
Curator of Prose and Drama
Yale Collection of American Literature
Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts
Timothy G. Young
Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts
Images: Psychoanalysis, New York, N.Y.: Tiny Tot Comics, c1955 Editors of the comic book Psychoanalysis aimed to “portray, graphically and dramatically, the manner in which people find peace of mind through the science of psychoanalysis.” Each analysis is “telescope[d] … into three to five issue-sessions” because, though a real analysis could take several years, listening to actual sessions might cause “boredom beyond all endurance.” Readers are further warned: “this magazine is not intended to fulfill the function of a psychoanalyst.” Tiny Tot Comics was also known as E. C. Comics, publisher of Tales from the Crypt and Mad; E. C. Comics created Psychoanalysis and other “educational” titles in response to broad condemnation of comic books as a corrupting influence on American youth.
Psyche & Muse featured hundreds of books, manuscripts, letters, photographs, posters, and other objects from the Beinecke Library’s Modern European Books and Manuscripts Collection, the Yale Collection of American Literature, and the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters. Follow the links below to complete listings of materials exhibited in each section of Psyche & Muse and curators’ descriptions of exhibited collection materials.
Case Studies: American Writers Encountering Psychoanalysis
Case Studies Checklist and Object Descriptions
Art Therapy: C.G. Jung and the Modernist Aesthetic
Art Therapy Checklist and Object Descriptions
H. D. and Freud, The Poet and the Professor
H. D. and Freud Checklist and Object Descriptions
Mixed Narratives and the Problem of Language:
Homosexuality and the Search for a “Cure”
Mixed Narratives Checklist and Object Descriptions
The Influence of Anxiety: Race and Writing in Jim Crow Times
Influence of Anxiety Checklist and Object Descriptions
Symbolism to Surrealism: Dreams, Madness, Insurrection
Symbolism to Surrealism Checklist and Object Descriptions
The Strange Case of Dr. Ferdière
Dr. Ferdière Checklist and Object Descriptions
Anti-Œdipus: Psychology, Dissent, and the Death of the Soul
Anti-Œdipus Checklist and Object Descriptions
Dr. Froyd: Psychoanalysis in the Popular Imagination
Dr. Froyd Checklist and Object Descriptions
LOCATION | Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street, New Haven, Connecticut
Free and open to the public
Freud’s Impossible Life: An Introduction
A lecture by Adam Phillips
Friday, February 25, 2011, 5:00 pm
Writer and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips is the author of more than ten books, including Side Effects; On Terrors and Experts; Promises, Promises: Essays on Poetry and Psychoanalysis; and On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, the London Review of Books, and The Observer. Dr. Phillips is the general editor of the Penguin Classics Freud series; he is currently at work on a new biography of Sigmund Freud to be published in the Yale University Press Jewish Lives Series.
or The Psychopathology of Paperwork
A lecture by Ben Kafka
Thursday, March 17, 2011, 4:00 pm
Ben Kafka is an assistant professor of the history and theory of media at New York University and a candidate at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPA). His first book, The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork, will be published by Zone Books. He is currently working on a history of graphology. His talk points to the intersections of mind and medium, psychoanalysis and book history, in an examination of Freud and paperwork. Withdrawal Slips is a featured event in the Beinecke Lectures in the History of the Book Series.
PODCAST: Luhan-Brill Correspondence Reading
Psychoanalyst A. A. Brill maintained an active correspondence with his patient Mabel Dodge Luhan, a writer and New York salon hostess. Luhan’s analysis began in June 1916 and continued until she moved to Taos, New Mexico, in December 1917, after which analyst and writer corresponded for nearly thirty years. This reading from the Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers presents a selection of letters that reflect the highly personal, expressive, and exploratory nature of their correspondence. Luhan recounted her dreams and reported on her current mental states. Brill responded with advice, warmth, and forceful interpretations. These letters provide views into often inaccessible aspects of analytic relationships. Patricia Everett, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is the author of A History Of Having A Great Many Times Not Continued To Be Friends: The Correspondence Between Mabel Dodge and Gertrude Stein, 1911–1934 (University of New Mexico Press, 1996). A 2005 Beinecke Library A. Bartlett Giamatti Visiting Research Fellow, she recently completed a book manuscript entitled The Dreams of Mabel Dodge and is currently editing the correspondence between Mabel Dodge Luhan and A. A. Brill. Paul Lippmann, Ph.D. is a fellow, a member of the faculty, and a training and supervising analyst at the William Alanson White Institute. He is in private practice in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and is director of the Stockbridge Dream Society. He is the author of Nocturnes: On Listening to Dreams (The Analytic Press, 2000).
The film clips below highlight writers, artists, and works featured in Psyche & Muse. Archive materials from the Beinecke collections include: home movie footage of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas from the Stein-Toklas Papers (Watch: Home movie of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (France, ); Richard Wright screen tests for the role of Bigger in Native Son from the Richard Wright Papers (Watch: Richard Wright’s Screen test for Native Son); and a recently discovered silent film, Monkey’s Moon, produced in 1929 by Pool Films, the film production company of writers Kenneth Macpherson, Bryher, and poet H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) (Watch: Pool Productions film Monkey’s Moon, 1929). Additional film clips include Freud family home movies from the Library of Congress and an interview with C. G. Jung. Examples of exhibition-related popular films are also included, such as the 1962 film of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night and the film version of Moss Hart’s musical about psychoanalysis, Lady in the Dark, starring Ginger Rogers.
Jason Robards and Katherine Hepburn in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night — 1962 film directed by Sidney Lumet
Ginger Rogers and Barry Sullivan in Moss Hart’s Lady in the Dark — 1944 film directed by Mitchell Leisen
Interview with C. G. Jung, excerpt
Pool Productions film Monkey’s Moon, 1929
Richard Wright’s Screentest for Native Son
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Trailer) — 1953 film directed by Howard Hawkes
The audio clips linked below highlight writers, artists, and works featured in Psyche & Muse.
Theatre Guild on Air production of Moss Hart’s Lady in the Dark
Listen: “Theatre Guild on the Air presents Lady in the Dark” (October 17, 1947)
Gertrude Stein Reading
Listen: fromThe Making Of Americans (New York, Winter 1934-35)
Finding a ‘Muse’ at the Beinecke, Yale Daily News, Tuesday, February 1, 2011
“Psyche” pits ego vs. id, Yale Daily News, Friday, February 4, 2011
“Dial-A-Muse” Debuts At Yale, BookTryst, Friday, February 18, 2011
Oedipal Objects – ‘Psyche & Muse’ at Yale may be the mother of all artistic obsessions, New Haven Register, Sunday, February 20, 2011
Image: The Royal Road to the Unconscious, a project by Simon Morris; in a collaboration with Howard Britton, Maurizio Cogliandro, Daniel Jackson, Dallas Seitz, York, England: Information as Material, [2003?].
A description of the project: “In January 2003, eighty-three students from York College cut out every word from Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams and as every word was cut from its sentence it was spoken. On 1st June 2003, the artist Simon Morris threw the words out of the window of a Renault Clio on Redbridge Road, Dorset. The action freed the words from the structural unity of Freud’s text as it subjected them to an aleatory moment. Maurizio Cogliandro and Dallas Seitz documented the action as 333,960 words erupted from the window of the car. Dr Howard Britton, a psychoanalyst, directed them to any slippages or eruptions of the real that occurred in the reconfigured text” –from the Publisher