Lacan and the Posthuman

February 07, 2019

Svitlana Matviyenko, Judith Roof, & Nancy Gillespie

Thursday, February 7, 6:00PM–8:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Co-sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities and School of Communication

School of Communication's Book + Speaker Series

The School of Communication's Book + Speaker Series is a space in which the School engages with recently published books by faculty and other members of the School community. A selected reading will be circulated well in advance to allow for informed discussion between the audience and author. The event is moderated by an invited respondent. The monthly series is conceived as a social event where faculty and students come together regularly to celebrate the achievements of our scholarly community, think critically, pose questions and search for new avenues for research and activism. 

Book Description

When Posthumanism displaces the traditional human subject, what does psychoanalysis add to contemporary conversations about subject/object relations, systems, perspectives, and values? This book discusses whether Posthumanism itself is a cultural indication of a shift in thinking that is moving from language to matter, from a politics focused on social relations to one organized according to a broader sense of object in environments. Together the authors question what is at stake in this shift and what psychoanalysis can say about it. 

Promoting psychoanalysis’ focus on the cybernetic relationships among subjects, language, social organizations, desire, drive, and other human motivations, this book demonstrates the continued relevance of Lacan’s work not only to continued understandings of the human subject, but to the broader cultural impasses we now face. Why Posthumanism? Why now? In what ways is Posthumanist thought linked to the emergence of digital technologies? Exploring Posthumanism from the insights of Lacan’s psychoanalysis, chapters expose and elucidate not only the conditions within which Posthumanist thought arises, but also reveal symptoms of its flaws: the blindness to anthropomorphization, projection, and unrecognized shifts in scale and perspective, as well as its mode of transcendental thought that enables many Posthumanist declarations. This book explains how Lacanian notions of the subject inform current discussions about human complicity with, and resistance to, algorithmic governing regimes, which themselves more wholly produce a “post”- humanism than any philosophical displacement of human centrality could.


Svitlana Matviyenko is an Assistant Professor of Critical Media Analysis in the School of Communication. Her research and teaching are focused on political economy of information, social and mobile media, infrastructure studies, history of science, cybernetics and psychoanalysis. She writes about cyberwar and militarization of communication, practices of resistance and mobilization; legacies of the Soviet techno-politics, including the Chernobyl catastrophe. Her publicationinclude: the Imaginary App (co-edited with Paul D. Miller, MIT Press, 2014) and articles in (Re)Turn: A Journal of Lacanian StudiesHarvard Journal of Ukrainian StudiesFibreculture JournalDigital Creativity, Krytyka and other venues and She is a co-editor (with Paul D. Miller) of The Imaginary App (MIT, 2014) and (with Judith Roof) of Lacan and the Posthuman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). With Nick Dyer-Witheford, she co-authored Cyberwar and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism (Minnesota UP, 2019).

Judith Roof is the author of seven monographs, including most recently The Comic Event (Bloomsbury 2018),  editor pr co-editor of six collections, including Lacan and Posthumanism (with Svitlana Matviyenko), and essays on modern drama, film, psychoanalysis, narrative, and critiques of the machine. She is the William Shakespeare Chair in English at Rice University.

Nancy Gillespie is a Lacanian analyst in private practice in New York City and Vancouver. She is a member of the Lacanian Compass, an affiliated group of the New Lacanian School, and is an Editor for The Lacanian Review: Hurly Burly, the journal of the New Lacanian School and the World Association of Psychoanalysis. She has a PhD in literature and psychoanalysis from the University of Sussex in the UK and did her formation as an analyst in Paris France. Her most recent publications are entitled “Resonance and the Difference Between Polysemy and the Equivoque” and  “Love and Ordinary Psychosis: A Portrait of an Athlete as a Young Man,” as well as her article in Lacan and the Posthuman.  Her ongoing research on poetics and Lacanian analysis is featured in Negotiating the Social Bond of Poetics, a special issue of Open Letter. Current research follows two paths: the missed encounter between feminism and the later work of Lacan, and political economy and jouissance. 

Event Contacts

Zoe Druick
Svitlana Matviyenko