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Photography and the Optical Unconscious

Edited by
Shawn Michelle Smith
Shawn Michelle Smith

Shawn Michelle Smith is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the author of At the Edge of Sight: Photography and the Unseen and Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture, both also published by Duke University Press.

Sharon Sliwinski is Associate Professor of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario and author of Mandela's Dark Years: A Political Theory of Dreaming and Human Rights in Camera.

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Sharon Sliwinski
Sharon Sliwinski

Shawn Michelle Smith is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the author of At the Edge of Sight: Photography and the Unseen and Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture, both also published by Duke University Press.

Sharon Sliwinski is Associate Professor of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario and author of Mandela's Dark Years: A Political Theory of Dreaming and Human Rights in Camera.

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Duke University Press
ISBN electronic:
978-0-8223-7299-8
Publication date:
2017
Book Chapter

Freud: The Photographic Apparatus

By
Sarah Kofman
Sarah Kofman
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Published:
May 2017

French philosopher Sarah Kofman examines the role that photography played in Sigmund Freud’s theoretical elaboration of the human psyche. In this excerpt from her book Camera Obscura: Of Ideology, first published in French in 1973, Kofman tracks the ways Freud explicitly and repeatedly used the metaphor of photography—and the photographic negative, in particular—in order to illustrate his theory of the unconscious. Far from simply producing a transparent image of reality, Kofman shows how Freud used photography to help illustrate the way human perception is structured to suit the demands of the ego.

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