Social Justice, Podcast, Arts & Culture

Episode 91: The Digital Unconscious and Decolonizing Lacan — with Clint Burnham

November 23, 2020
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Below the Radar explores Lacanian theory with Lacan Salon President and SFU English Professor Clint Burnham.

Clint speaks to how Lacan’s ideas are taken up in the digital age. Clint takes up Lacanian theories of the ‘unconscious,’ ‘extimacy,’ or ‘the split subject,’ as well as Žižek’s works, to unpack racism and microagressions; intimacy and digital devices; and virtual interactions and teaching in pandemic-times.

For this interview, Clint joined Am Johal to film a distanced conversation in the Djavad Mowafhagian World Art Centre on SFU’s Vancouver campus.

About Our Guest

Clint Burnham

Clint Burnham was born in Comox, British Columbia, which is on the traditional territory of the K’ómoks (Sathloot) First Nation, centred historically on kwaniwsam. He lives and teaches on the traditional ancestral territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including traditional territories of the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw), Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ), Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), and Kwikwetlem (kʷikʷəƛ̓əm) Nations. Clint’s research interests include cultural studies (especially film and popular culture), contemporary poetry, and theory (especially psychoanalysis and Marxism). He is the author of book-length studies of Steve McCaffery, Fredric Jameson, and Slavoj Žižek. He is also the author of numerous books of poetry and fiction; his novel Smoke Show was published by Arsenal Pulp in 2005, his most recent book of poetry, Pound at Guantánamo, was published in 2016 by Talonbooks, and his latest fiction collection, Stories for my iPad, is under contract with Anvil. Clint has written on art in ESPACE art actuel, fillip, Flash Art, Camera Austria, The Vancouver Sun, Canadian Art, Artforum, and The Globe and Mail. He co-edited Digital Natives (Other Sights) with Lorna Brown, From Text to Txting (Indiana) with Paul Budra, and an issue of Canadian Literature on 21st century poetics with Christine Stewart; he is the author of The Only Poetry that Matters: Reading the Kootenay School of Writing (Arsenal Pulp). New and recent art writing includes a review essay on Walker Evans for Scan (U of Winnipeg), an essay on Vancouver artist Rodney Graham for the Polygon Gallery (North Vancouver), and a catalogue essay on Canadian photographer Kelly Wood. An essay on Edward Burtynsky appeared in the recent Petrocultures collection from McGill-Queen’s, an essay on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is in the forthcoming Un-Archiving the Literary Event: CanLit Across Media volume, also from McGill-Queen’s, and an essay on Lacan and new media is in After Lacan collection from Cambridge (ed. Ankhi Mukerjee). His essay “Love and Sex in the Age of Capitalist Realism,” co-authored with Matthew Flisfeder, appeared in Cinema Journal in 2017, and “New Media as Event,” co-authored with Katarina Peović Vuković, appeared in Synthesis Philosophica, also in 2017. Prof. Burnham’s newest scholarly book, Does the Internet have an Unconscious? Slavoj Žižek and Digital Culture appeared in 2018 from Bloomsbury, which also published his Fredric Jameson and The Wolf of Wall Street, in 2016.  He has been a member of the SFU English department since 2007; before that he taught at UBC, Capilano College, and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. He is currently chair of the SFU English Graduate Program, and in addition to teaching the professional development courses in the coming academic year, he is also teaching, in spring 2020, a graduate seminar on truth and reconciliation, and in intersession 2020, a new introductory course on creative writing. He has supervised doctoral students writing on photography and intimacy (Alison Dean) and on sound archives (Deanna Fong), and is presently supervising dissertations on theories of search (Alois Sieben), cognitive mapping (Ed Graham – co-supervised with Prof. Lesjak), and post-humanism (Ziwei Yan). Clint is an associate member of the SFU Department of Geography and a member of SFU’s Centre for Global Political Economy, and he is a founding member of the Vancouver Lacan Salon. He co-organized the LaConference 2018, the proceedings of which, Lacan + the Environment, he is co-editing, with Prof. Kingsbury (SFU Geography) for Palgrave; this coming year he is on the organizing committee for the Canadian Association of Cultural Studies/Association Canadienne des Études Culturelles “Organized Abandonment” Conference 2020.

Watch the Video Interview



Johal, Am. “The Digital Unconscious and Decolonizing Lacan — with Clint Burnham.” Below the Radar, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Podcast audio, November 23, 2020.


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