I reflect upon the value of Jacques Lacan's 1969–70 Seminar XVII, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, for thinking about the challenges we face as scholars and teachers working in the contemporary university. As with Lacan's title for this seminar, my title has a range of meanings: I am interested in the way in which “cultural studies” has come to be demonized as the other side of a proper scholarship that fantasizes about a return to respectable normative disciplinarity and in the way in which what Lacan theorizes and performs in this seminar—the work of what he calls analysis—offers an exemplary case of an other side to the study of culture that is the verso of both proper disciplined intellectual labors and the imaginary Other of cultural studies.
Lacan was long interested in the productive possibilities of mathematical formalizations. I argue that it is precisely in such formalizations that the heuristic force of what we call theory lies: these formalizations are what “force,” in Alain Badiou's sense, new knowledges, something I will show in what follows by both outlining some of Lacan's formalizations and offering a few of my own. Furthermore, in the second half of this essay, I suggest that we might in turn use another formalization, that of A. J. Greimas's semiotic rectangle, to understand a movement that occurs in Lacan's work from the three that dominated his earlier “structuralist” thinking—prominently on display in his early 1950s “Seminar on ‘The Purloined Letter’”—to the four of his late work. Reading Lacan with Greimas helps us understand better both what is imagined and what is really at stake in current debates over theory and scholarship in the humanities.