February 26 – 28, 2021
Before women had access to capital in the public sphere, powerful sibling bonds and deep female friendships were captured in the literary imagination. Now, on the streets and in blog communities, feminist collectives of all genders inspire resistance projects that are reshaping the meaning of sisterhood. This conference will consider the representation of sisterhood across psychoanalytic and literary canons. Shifting the focus away from the historical role of women as muse, damsel, or mistress – or as the inferior sex plagued by penis envy – this weekend will cast light on artistic literary collaborations among female-identified people.
We’ll also explore female envy and competition in a male-dominated literary world, in which women who write defy a long-standing reputation as “scribblers,” as Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote to a publisher in 1855. We’ll consider the persistent expectation that a woman “write like a man,” in order to be taken seriously. Alternatively, we’ll explore whether this posturing of masculinity is the flip side of “womanliness as masquerade,” described by psychoanalyst Joan Rivere in 1929 as a creative solution for dealing with conflicts – within oneself and in the culture – about female power, ambition, and aggression.
If women’s writing is still received differently in contemporary publishing, how does this marginalization show up in women’s writing lives? If women have earned their entitlement to money and a room to write, what more do we need? And how do broad social movements, like the #metoo campaign, influence women’s self- expression and ability to put pen to paper? How does the queering of the categories of “male” and “female” reshape how the gendered social order is represented, and how writers bring to life the complexity of gender and subjectivity? These questions and more will stimulate lively conversation during our weekend together about the vast meanings – including the awesome potential and perils – of sisterhood.
Coordinator: Catherine Baker-Pitts, Ph.D., LCSW
ANNIE LEE JONES Ph.D is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Queens, New York. She is Co-chair of the Ethnicity, Race, Culture, Class, and Language Committee at New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, where she is also teaching faculty; a member of Black Psychoanalysts Speak; and an honorary member of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR), where she taught a course on black psychoanalytic writers. Dr. Jones is a 2018 Scholar of the NY Psychoanalytic Society. Her current projects include papers on Frantz Fanon; biases and privileges related to skin color perception from a relational perspective; and the interrogation of psychoanalysis from the perspective of a Black American Woman. She continues to write short poems and vignettes from her experience of herself in the United States.
CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE is the author of the instant New York Times bestseller A Piece of the World (2017), about the relationship between the artist Andrew Wyeth and the subject of his best-known painting, “Christina’s World.” Kline has written six other novels —Orphan Train, Orphan Train Girl, The Way Life Should Be, Bird in Hand, Desire Lines, and Sweet Water — and written or edited five works of nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, LitHub, and Psychology Today, among other places. She lives in New York City and on the coast of Maine.
Additional faculty will be announced at a later date.